ROGERSVILLE — Saturday April 13, 2019 was Care NET Community Conservation Committee’s third annual Earth Day clean-up on the Holston River, sponsored by the Cherokee Lake Users Association (CLUA).

Fourteen participants gave up a day of leisure to clean up a slice of terrain on McKinney Chapel Road along the Holston River near Rogersville. At first glance the task was daunting, and we were disheartened by the volumes of trash we saw. The recent flooding in East Tennessee undoubtedly contributed to our work load. In addition, there was a graveyard of decaying deer, their bones left abandoned and strewn all over the area, and a few live rats that scurried away as we filled our bags with trash.

This year we were not going to be deterred by bones, rats, tires or furniture. Because we had the assistance of more volunteers and machinery, and a much needed dumpster provided by Hawkins County Solid Waste Manager John Lilly, this Earth day cleanup was not going to be as strenuous as last year. We knew we could get the job done, because this year we were far more prepared.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) provided trash bags, grabbers, and gloves, enabling all of us to eventually fill up 85 bags of trash and fill the dumpster conveniently located close to our working zone. The collected trash and debris weighed an astonishing 2,500 pounds. Big items such as home furnishings were difficult and laborious to access and required the use of a “knuckle boom” generously provided by volunteer Mr. Chris Couch. He used his equipment to yank the mattresses, box springs and couch out of the vegetative undergrowth and up the steep bank into the dumpster. The knuckle boom proved invaluable in unearthing tires that had long been buried in the muck.

Another gracious volunteer, Mr. Dan Ely contributed his grapple hook and rope, enabling the group to retrieve nearly all of the remaining tires that the knuckle boom had not picked up. In all, 59 tires were removed from the dump site to be sent for recycling. Ely’s grapple hook fought fiercely to remove the stubborn soggy couch cushions that had resided on the Holston river bank for some time.

Care NET CCC’s contribution to cleaning up in honor of Earth day this year was also in synchronization with fellow caregivers of the environment. Just downriver from our work site, TVA properties, islands and waterways all around Cherokee Lake were being cleaned up by CLUA crews working from boats.

This was a wonderful opportunity to get acquainted with local residents who responded to our publicity. We were able to educate them about Care NET and the Sierra Club and invite them to join us for activities we have planned for the future. Joining forces with the new volunteers tempered the frustration we felt that such a large, illegal trash dump was located less than two miles from the County Convenience Center. Cleaning up the mess was by no means enjoyable or convenient for us, but we believe it is our duty and responsibility, in honor of Earth Day, to do whatever we can to make the world a better place.