Big Sweep cleans waterways

Published 12:31 am Friday, October 21, 2011

Last Saturday morning, volunteers donned creek sneakers and rubber gloves and worked for hours to help clean up the Pamlico River.

The 15th Big Sweep cleanup was organized by the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation. PTRF members, along with students from Beaufort County Community College, the Trail and River Rovers of Eastern Carolina and other concerned residents pitched in to clean the river, Tranter’s and Runyon creeks and the Jack’s Creek greenway.

“We are so very pleased to have a dedicated group of volunteers in Beaufort County that we can rely on each year and who put forth that extra effort to keep our community and the River clean,” said Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Heather Deck.
Volunteers removed 12 bags of trash, three tires and a large, blue barrel. Many volunteers stayed late to sort the trash, removing recyclable materials.

“Overall, 50 percent of the trash we collected consisted of recyclables … bottles, cans and glass,” said Rick Zablocki, a former PTRF board member and event organizer.

PTRF also organized a cleanup in Greenville in coordination with the Pitt County Recycling Program. More than 200 volunteers cleaned up portions of the Tar River, Green Mill Run, the Town Commons and downtown area.
Overall, the two cleanups netted approximately 2,000 pounds of trash.

“While hurricanes, like Irene, add trash and debris to our river, the majority of the trash we find comes from items dumped on land that reach our waterways via storm drains,” said Deck.

She added, “This is entirely preventable, and we will continue to work with communities to reduce this source of pollution for the Tar-Pamlico River.”

The Pamlico-Tar River Foundation is a grassroots nonprofit organization whose mission is to monitor, protect and enhance the Pamlico-Tar River and watershed while promoting environmental justice. PTRF has organized fall and spring annual river cleanups since 2006, removing more than 12 tons of trash from the water and greenways. For more information, visit