Keeping Johns River beautiful

Residents take to the water for cleanup project
Jun. 01, 2014 @ 08:05 AM

The swift water and threatening skies Saturday morning were not enough to deter one group of retirees from venturing into the Johns River with kayaks and canoes.

The group of about 15, all residents of The Coves at Round Mountain, a 3,000-acre development off Valley View Circle near Collettsville, aimed to rid the scenic river and its banks of unsightly trash as part of a beautification project spearheaded by Nell Fisher, who assisted with a recent cleanup along Wilson Creek.

"If we can get something contagious going on here, this will be worth it," Fisher said as she gave the others their marching orders.

Fisher, 59, is not a Caldwell County native, but like the others she found the scenic vistas and fresh mountain air alluring. Hailing from as far away as California and New York, the neighbors formed a committee to keep their wilderness backyard clean. 

They put into the river around 10:30 a.m. Navigating the currents and unseen obstacles lurking under the murky waters, they paddled downstream, stopping at any signs of garbage along the way. It wasn't long before the trash bags began to pile up along the one and a half mile route.

Brian Harvey, 52, of Virginia drove ahead in a Kawasaki utility task vehicle and shuttled bags of collected trash to a trailer to be hauled off. A large square piece of metal had to be pried out of the muddy bank. A rusty car wheel was collected, along with aluminum cans, food wrappers and discarded tarps. 

The bags were taken to a nearby landfill. Afterward, the garbage collectors treated themselves to a cookout. They were a bit sweaty and muddy, but more importantly the Johns River was left cleaner than before.

Fisher deflected credit for the beautification project to the citizens of Caldwell County,

"This is the most incredible county I've ever been a part of. We all cannot believe how great the people are here," she said. "The environment and the views here are worth the effort. We're very inspired now."