“The Ocoee River Outfitters Association is dedicated to protecting the Ocoee River because a healthy community starts with a healthy river,” said Blake McPherson, co-chairman of the 2013 Ocoee River Cleanup and manager of the Cherokee Rafting commercial outfitting company. “Clean and healthy rivers have the potential to provide everything from clean drinking water, to recreation opportunities, to fish and wildlife habitats.”
He added, “What we do here not only affects our local tourism and recreation opportunities, but we also have to look downstream. Rivers connect us. And not just to communities and ecosystems downstream, but to past and future generations as well.”
The outfitters are banding together with local residents and river guides to tackle litter in the Ocoee River as part of National River Cleanup 2013.
Sponsored by American Rivers, National River Cleanup is a series of community-based stream cleanups taking place nationwide. The popular annual event raises public awareness of the magnitude of trash accumulating in the nation’s waterways. OROA will participate with tens of thousands of volunteers taking part in hundreds of cleanups across the country to remove trash from local rivers and streams.
Information about National River Cleanup is available at at www.AmericanRivers.org.
Since its start, more than 1.14 million volunteers have participated in thousands of cleanups across the country and removed more than 16.5 million pounds of litter and debris from more than 244,500 miles of waterways. Officials reported the 2012 cleanup was the most successful in the history of National River Cleanup.
“The Ocoee River is so important to our community that we’ve got to take every opportunity we can to protect it, for us and for future generations,” according to Kip Gilliam, co-chairman of the 2013 Ocoee River Cleanup and Owner of Cascade Outdoors. “Keeping it clean is one way citizens can do their part for the river we all love. The Ocoee River is one of the nation’s top whitewater destinations and we want to help keep it looking fantastic.”
The Ocoee River’s headwaters descend from the high country of northern Georgia into southeastern Tennessee, weaving its rushing whitewater westward down the Ocoee Gorge and into Lake Ocoee, also known as Parksville Lake. This particular river has been a favorite to rafters, kayakers and canoeists since 1977. The river was the site of whitewater events for the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta. The Ocoee River whitewater industry attracts more than 250,000 guests annually.
For more information about the 2013 Ocoee River Cleanup, meeting location or to volunteer, contact Blake McPherson at 423-338-5124.
For more information on river cleanups happening throughout the watershed, around the state or across the country, visit: http://www.americanrivers.org