More than 30 volunteers in a flotilla of kayaks, canoes and flat-bottomed boats removed at least 650 discarded tires from a 9-mile stretch of the of the Coal River in Boone County on Saturday.
The effort was led by Trash Your Kayak, an informal group of river users determined to remove tires and other forms of litter from the Coal River and its tributaries. Trash Your Kayak founder Michelle Martin and group member Melissa Haddix planned Saturday’s event after having spent portions of nearly every weekend for the past year removing trash and tires from the Coal River system, according to Bill Currey, chairman of the Coal River Group, whose members took part in Saturday’s cleanup.
“The job of cleaning up the rivers is a dirty, ugly and physically draining activity,” Currey said. “Thankfully, people like Michelle Martin just thrive on removing these tiresome and terrible tires from the rivers.”
The section of river on which the cleanup took place is a popular segment of the Coal River Water Trail, labeled “L-2” on trail guides. It extends downriver from the a stream access site near the Donald R. Kuhn Juvenile Center at Julian to a public boat launch just off Corridor G near Boone County Water Park. Most of the tires were removed from a 1.5 mile section of the stream.
Volunteers pulled tires from the stream bed, loaded them onto canoes and kayak and transferred them to flat-bottomed aluminum boats from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan (REAP) program for transport to shoreline pick-up sites, where REAP workers loaded them into trailers. The tires were then trucked to a disposal site near Weston.
In addition to the Coal River Group and the REAP staff, the Trash Your Kayak group received assistance from Authentic Adventures, a kayak rental outfitter.
Currey said an additional 600 to 700 tires remain in the section of the Coal River involved in Saturday’s cleanup, and that the Trash Your Kayak group plans to remove the remaining tires through follow-up efforts.
Volunteers interested in assisting in future cleanups are urged to call Michelle Martin at 304-553-2606.