The Ocoee River Outfitters Association and local Ocoee River guides and paddlers will conduct a river cleanup with the help of approximately 130 volunteers on Friday.
“The Ocoee River Outfitters Association (OROA) is dedicated to protecting the Ocoee River because a healthy community starts with a healthy river. Clean and healthy rivers provide everything from clean drinking water to recreation opportunities to fish and wildlife habitats,” said Blake McPherson, manager of Cherokee Rafting.
“Rivers are our lifelines. They supply half of our drinking water, provide opportunities for recreation, fuel our economy, sustain natural systems, and enrich the quality of our lives. More than 3 million miles of rivers crisscross our nation and nearly every American lives within one mile of a river or stream.”
American Rivers’ National River Cleanup is a series of nationwide community-based river and stream cleanups. This popular annual event raises public awareness about the need for healthy rivers and is great opportunity for civic engagement.
OROA and local river guides will be participating along with tens of thousands of volunteers taking part in hundreds of cleanups across the country to remove trash from local waterways.
Why keep the Ocoee River clean? Polk County is the proud home of the most popular whitewater destination in the nation. Over 230,000 people raft the Ocoee annually.
According to a recent Economic Impact Study conducted by Dr. Steve Morse at UT Knoxville, a total of $43.8 million in economic activity was generated in 2012 as a result of visitor spending on trips to raft the Ocoee River in 2012, while a total of $3.57 million in state, federal, and local taxes were also generated in a 30 county region as a result of visitor spending on Ocoee River rafting trips in 2012.
The Ocoee River also generates approximately 622 jobs as a result of visitor spending, which includes rafting outfitters, hotels and lodging, restaurants, retail and transportation businesses.
His study also determined that for every $1 spent directly by rafting visitors, and additional 63 cents in economic activity was generated throughout the 30-county study region.
“The Outfitters Association is committed to keeping the Ocoee River clean so we can protect and restore it for us and future generations. Participating in a river clean-up is one way that citizens can do their part for the river we all love,” said Kip Gilliam, owner of Cascade Outdoors. “The Ocoee River is the nation’s favorite river to play on and we want to keep it looking fantastic,” stated Kip.
“It is wonderful to see so many people around the Ocoee and across the country taking action to protect and restore their rivers and clean water,” said Bob Irvin, president of American Rivers. “We applaud the work of OROA and its paddlers for the work they do on behalf of the river and the community.”
River clean up participants will be meeting at 9:30 a.m. Friday at the Ocoee No. 2 dam/put-in located on Highway 64 inside the Cherokee National Forest.
Volunteers, local paddlers or anyone else who wishes to help are welcome to attend.
“Most people are transformed by a great sense of accomplishment after piling up their trash bags following a river clean-up” said McPherson. “The benefits surrounding clean rivers are not just short term, but there are many long term effects as well, and it feels great to help.”