Riverkeeper challenge yields more than a ton of trash

Published 8:11 pm Monday, April 24, 2017

A Washington crew held its own in the annual Riverkeeper Cup Challenge held Saturday in coordination with Earth Day.

Roughly 10 volunteers gathered at 8 a.m. at Havens Gardens and set off on boats, kayaks and by foot to pick trash from the Pamlico River and its banks.

According to Heather Deck, Pamlico-Tar riverkeeper and deputy director of Sound Rivers, the Washington volunteers returned with an estimated 600 pounds of trash.

Upstream in Rocky Mount, 33 volunteers picked 750 pounds out of the Tar River, while in Tarboro, seven volunteers pulled out 660 pounds.

“Greenville was a good turnout,” Deck wrote in an email, adding that 60 to 70 volunteers tackled trash at the Tar River in Greenville.

Early estimates show that approximately 150 volunteers at the four sites picked up about 3,000 pounds of garbage total.

At the event, Sound Rivers Executive Director Harrison Marks said he was heartened by the number of volunteers who attended in Washington, which was more than the previous year.

The increase in volunteers could be attributed to a partnership between Sound Rivers and artists to repurpose river trash, using the found items to create works of art. Arts of the Pamlico plans to host an exhibit of the resultant art at the Turnage Theatre gallery in the fall.

“Artists have taken some items, and more will be collected this week for use with the Arts on the Pamlico trash to art project,” Deck wrote in an email.

In addition to being held in conjunction with Earth Day, as well as the worldwide March for Science — at which more than 250 people marched down Main Street in Washington — Sound Rivers hosted two cleanups on the Neuse and Trent rivers.

Deck said final tallies would be in later in the week and the 2017 Riverkeeper Cup Challenge winner would be announced.