Volunteers sought for annual Tuck River Cleanup on April 18

EDITOR’S NOTE: This campus and community event has been postponed indefinitely.

Western Carolina University will hold its annual Tuck River Cleanup between Cullowhee and Whittier from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 18.

The community event on the Jackson County portion of the Tuckaseigee River is considered to be the nation’s largest single-day effort to remove garbage from a waterway. Hundreds of volunteers will spend the day collecting litter, debris and discarded items. The scenic waterway is recognized as an outdoor recreation destination with fishing, canoe and raft trips, and family-oriented activities available.

A happy crew following a successful day of clean-up last year.

“The recent rains and resulting high water have washed up a lot of trash,” said Kay Tufts, assistant director with WCU’s Base Camp Cullowhee and event organizer. “Debris has flowed downstream and some of it got lodged along the river banks, piled up on islands, rocks and trees. So, we should have plenty to clean up this year.

“It also serves as a good reminder to be a good neighbor. We’ll all live downstream from somebody,” Tufts said.

In addition to WCU students, faculty and staff, community and civic groups are invited to participate.

Anyone wanting to volunteer should register at a sign-in station by the WCU Alumni Tower on the morning of the event, with the first 500 registrants receiving a free T-shirt upon completion of activities.

Rafting participants will be assigned to a raft and provided with a paddle, personal flotation device, trash bags and transportation to and from the river. Those participants should wear shoes that won’t come off in the water (tennis shoes are best, no flip-flops or shower sandals) and are encouraged to eat before registering. There are alternative walking routes for anyone preferring not to raft.

Event schedule:

  • 8 to 9 a.m. and 12 to 1 p.m. – Rafting registration
  • 10 to 11 a.m. ― Walking route registration
  • 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Transportation to the river
  • 2 to 5 p.m. – Transportation from the river
  • 2 to 6 p.m. – Free food and entertainment, drawings for prizes donated by local businesses

Cleanup Rules:

  • Don’t pick up syringes, broken glass, large metal objects, animal carcasses or weapons
  • Don’t place items weighing more than 50 lbs. into a raft
  • Base Camp Cullowhee programs and events are alcohol and drug free
  • Inclement weather means stop picking up trash, rafters must paddle immediately to designated take out

Major sponsors include Campus Recreation and Wellness, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Jackson County Tourism Development Authority, Nantahala Outdoor Center, Republic Services, The Sylva Herald, Wildwater Ltd., Duke Energy and Emma Busline.

For more information about the Tuck River Cleanup, contact Tufts at kjtufts@wcu.edu or 828-227-8804.