Three Corporate Community Service Days Turn Out 80

Pfizer Biotech event

Pfizer Biotech employees at work. Trash collects under logs carried by the Haw R.

Employees from Pfizer Biotech of Sanford,  Duke Energy’s Shearon-Harris Nuclear Plant and Biogen Idec participated in community service days with Clean Jordan Lake over the past 4 months.  This was the first time for Pfizer Biotech and Duke Energy and the fourth for Biogen Idec.

Volunteers for all three community service days were assigned to stretch of Wilderness Island shown on this map.

Wilderness Island is not really an island but a peninsula that borders the Haw River Arm on its east side.

map of WI cleanups by Pfizer, Duke Energy and Biogen

Cleanups are colored lines on Wilderness Island: Yellow – Pfizer Biotech; Orange-Duke Energy; Purple-Biogen Idec

To reach the tip of the peninsula to do a cleanup would require walking in several miles from the end of Seaforth Rd.  Instead, we ferried volunteers from a dock near Jordan Lake Dam using a flotilla of boats provided by the Army Corps of Engineers, Cross Winds Boating Center and John Flack, a Clean Jordan Lake helper.

The three cleanups resulted in removal of 160 bags of trash and 14 tires.  This brings our bag total to over 9,000 since 2009, enough to fill about 30 big dumpsters.

Volunteers enjoyed their 10 min. ride over to Wilderness Island.  It gave them a chance to appreciate the natural beauty of the lake and the graceful Great Blue Herons that are everywhere.

Volunteer group photo

Volunteers from Duke Energy Shearon-Harris Nuclear Plant on Aug. 15th

The cleanup work itself is not easy.   There are thousands of tiny pieces of Styrofoam from the break down of fast food containers.  Unfortunately, wildlife ingest Styrofoam.

Molly Malone, the organizer of the Duke Energy event came away with an idea to reduce Styofoam and other food packaging products in their cafeteria.

On pontoon boat

Duke Energy Shearon-Harris employees enjoy ride to Wilderness Island

Mindy Leland, the coordinator for Pfizer Biotech’s effort on June 10 said afterwards that “This was a great opportunity for team building.  We worked together to make a difference in our local environment.  It was hard work but it was worth it!”


We Care Deeply volunteers arrive for morning shift.

Biogen Idea employees have a choice of projects in their ” We Care Deeply” day of community service.

On Sept. 19th, Biogen Idec volunteers arrived in buses for two shifts, one for the morning and the other for afternoon.


Biogen Idec employee proudly displays one of his trash treasures. Basketballs and soccer balls are always found in our cleanups.


Biogen Idec employees on their way to Wildness Island on Army Corps of Engineers pontoon boat, escorted by Fran DiGiano (foreground left), President of Clean Jordan Lake

The morning group was ferried to Wilderness Island while the afternoon group cleaned a section of shoreline near the departure dock.

In the last four years of participation with Clean Jordan Lake, 368 employees have removed 562 bags of trash and 138 tires.

Greg Runyon, one of the organizers, said “we always not only do something meaningful but we have fun doing it!”  To that end, Greg awarded prizes for the strangest items of trash to be found.



Weird trash comes in all sizes!

Fishermen Education and Clean-up Volunteers Needed for the B. Everett Dam at Jordan Lake

Clean Jordan Lake needs a dedicated, agile, and energetic group of volunteers in our Adopt-A-Shoreline Program to remove trash from the tailrace of the B. Everett Dam at Jordan Lake.  The tailrace is where swift flowing water exits the lake below the dam. It is a very popular place to fish but unfortunately, some seem to be destroying the very place that they enjoy to come.  As a member of our Adopt-A-Shoreline Program, a group would be required to clean the tailrace three times each year for three years. The cleanup includes walking on uneven rocks along the banks of the tailrace.

CJL fishing line collectionThe trash and fishing line left by fishermen at the tailrace is a chronic problem. A huge amount of fishing line was collected during two previous community service days at the tailrace in November 2013 and February 2014.






Nature photographer Ellen Tinsley ( works with CJL to document trash and its detrimental impact on wildlife and water quality. Ellen recently captured this bag of trash floating down the tailrace.

Trash bag in tailrace

Birds are ingesting plastic and using plastic bags in their nests. It is decreasing their reproduction and quality of life.  It could injure the Eagles at Jordan Lake in the future. For those interested in observing an eagle nest at Jordan Lake, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates an eagle camera project at Jordan Lake (

More trash has accumulated since February, just four months after our last cleanup. The photo below was taken in June 2014.

Riprap trash and bird at tailrace (2)












Fishing line on bird leg

In the next photograph Ellen captured fishing line entangled around the leg of a Great Blue Heron.





This is not the first time that she has been able to document a bird’s injury due fishing line. In summer 2013, Ellen photographed a this Great Blue Heron at the tailrace that not only had fishing line around its leg but also an attached huge lure. This bird was obviously unable to fly correctly and hunt for food.  The International Bird Rescue ( has documented and rescued many birds due to fishing equipment left behind by careless fishermen in waterways.








The photograph below shows fishing line tied to a soda bottle and hanging from a tree near the tailrace. The bottle serves as inexpensive reel.  Our volunteers find this combination routinely.

fishing line & bottle in tree

This immature great blue heron was found hanging from this tree this morning.  All of its weight on the line wrapped right wing.The bird had been sighted by a kind fisherman who alerted me to the problem.  While staff from the Army Corps of Engineers at Jordan Lake gathered up equipment to try and release the bird, the fishing line snapped.  The heron landed in the water and waded to shore.  It took a minute to fold in its wings because the right wing has a lot of fishing line wound around it.  While unlikely that the bird can fly anymore,  the survival instinct is strong and the bird will not give up.




In addition to adopting the tailrace, CJL is looking for others who would be interested in starting a program of on-site fishermen education, explaining why it is important not to leave trash and fishing line behind. Please consider helping us with either activity so we can prevent future destruction of wildlife habitats and injury to birds. For either opportunity, send email to: Connect with Clean Jordan Lake at Facebook, twitter,,


Clean Jordan Lake’s New Adopt-a-Feeder Stream Program!

On Monday June 9th, a group of children and adults led by Rome Fontaine with the Buckingham Home Owners Association (HOA) cleaned up the banks of North Beaver Creek in the Town of Apex. This was the first event in Clean Jordan Lake’s (CJL) new Adopt-A-Feeder Stream program.
IMG_0209The goal is to prevent trash from reaching the shoreline by removing trash near its source. North Beaver Creek is a tributary to Beaver Creek which then flows into Jordan Lake The Town of Apex has endorsed Clean Jordan Lake’s idea and will pay for installation of attractive signs at adopted sites to acknowledge the work of participating groups. Rome and his associates previously volunteered for Clean Jordan Lake sponsored cleanups of the lake’s shoreline. Rome mentioned, “Environmental issues have always been an important topic for me. I have sponsored an Adopt a Highway route for some 20 years as well as supporting various efforts by groups interested in preserving a clean and safe environment.” The volunteers added that adopting a feeder stream and being responsible for cleaning it up to prevent trash from reaching Jordan Lake were easy steps to take.

If a long term commitment to CJL’s Adopt-A-Feeder Stream Program is not possible, small groups can still decide to organize a one-time only cleanup. For either opportunity, send email to:

UNC, Green Hope High Students in Two, Pre-Memorial Day Weekend Cleanups

IMG_0857 3Prof. Mario Marzan of the UNC Art Dept. connected with Clean Jordan Lake in a unique way to  help our cause while educating his students. UNC offers a “Maymester” course designed as a short and intensive 14 day semester.  Students can take special topics that may not fit the regular semester format.  

Prof. Marzan’s course is called The Walking Seminar. The goal is to engage students in a territorial investigation of the North Carolina landscape.   He noted that “we are coming together to appreciate the outdoors and to examine the visual and aesthetic character of walking in nature.  We are focusing on our role and responsibilities, not only through the lens of artists, but as members of society. We hope to foster an atmosphere of equal exchange and will be seeking ways in which as a group we could give back.”

On Thursday, May 22nd, these UNC students did ‘give back’ in the form of removing trash from a section of shoreline within the Seaforth Access to the Jordan Lake State Recreation Area.   They collected about 20 bags of trash and many large objects including a propane cylinder, a football and several buckets from a low lying area in which trash routinely deposits after every big rainfall event.  In fact, 5 inches of rain fell just 1 week before the cleanup raising the lake level by about 6 ft. and bringing yet more trash.  Most of this is coming up the lake from the Haw River Arm, several miles to the south.

Before the cleanup,  students learned about the formation and management of the lake in a presentation by Francis Ferrell of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Afterwards, they visited the Jordan Lake Educational State Forest and heard a presentation about forestry and natural resource management.

20140523_162620After school on Friday, May 23rd, a group of 7 students in an environmental science class at Green Hope High earned their community service credit by volunteering with us.

Their assigned area had never been cleaned before by our volunteers because the terrain is so very challenging.  The students had to descend a steep embankment off the west side of Farrington Point Rd. near the bridge over northernmost arm to reach the somewhat unstable rip-rap of rocks.  In between the rocks and up into the brush above lies a huge deposit of trash including many old propane camping-size cylinders.  Adding to this load from careless water recreation is litter thrown out of car windows from the road above.

The student organizer of the event was Natsumi Koyama.  She said afterwards that “It was physically harder than we expected, but I was glad that we were still capable of the work.  I would encourage more high school students to come out, because this event really opened up our eyes to how much trash that accumulates in Jordan Lake.”

Panther Creek HS Led Cleanup a Success

_RK_9078 CJL Panther High 4-26-2014 2014In early April, Tuscan Harrington, a student at Panther Creek High School in Cary, approached Clean Jordan Lake with his idea for a class project on the application of rhetoric skills to entice folks to volunteer for a nonprofit cause.  Tuscan was already familiar with our trash cleanups, having accompanied his Dad in a GlaxoSmithKline community service day and a couple of impromptu family organized cleanups while visiting the lake shoreline.

Tuscan and other classmates helped to develop the description of the cleanup for posting on social media,  surveyed the shoreline cleanup routes, selected the most unique Trash Treasure Hunt items, got gift certificates as prizes and recruited others at Panther Creek High to volunteer.


IMG_0940The cleanup took place on April 26th on the east side of the lake, just north of the spillway.  By just counting the 25 volunteers who each took 4 hours of their time to participate, the students exceeded the requirement set by their rhetoric teacher for 96 hours of volunteerism.  The volunteer hours were far higher if including the time spent to organize the event.

Volunteers removed 60 bags of trash and three tires.   This same stretch of shoreline had been completely cleared of trash last October. But since then, five heavy rainfall periods flushed more trash off the 1,400 sq. mi. in the Haw River watershed, raised the lake level from two to eight ft. and reformed the old “trash line” about 50 ft. back into the woods.

_RK_9152 CJL Panther High 4-26-2014 2014Two volunteers came with boats and crew members to haul the trash across the lake to a dumpster.




_RK_9104 CJL Panther High 4-26-2014 2014

Trash Treasure Hunt construction hat redeemed for a $20 gift certificate from Great Outdoor Provision Company.




All of the Trash Treasure Hunt items were found and redeemed for gift certificates from PDQ and from Great Outdoor Provision Company of Chapel Hill.


Trash Treasure Hunt soccer ball redeemed for PDQ gift certificate. Same type of ball was found in separate cleanup along Beaver Creek behind the Beaver Creek Commons shopping mall.



There was a contest as well for the weirdest items.  No one could explain the origin of a very attractively colored bowling ball uncovered by Tuscan.






_RK_9164 CJL Panther High 4-26-2014 2014

Tuscan Harrington showing off the bowling ball that defied the law of gravity to arrive at the shoreline!

New Adopt-A-Shoreline Groups Begin Bagging Trash

Farrington Pt. west boat rampsThree new Adopt-A-Shoreline groups began their cleanups in April-May period.  The UNC Kenan-Flagler Executive Development Program group is led by Kathleen Fernan.  She and 7 of her co-workers  have adopted a stretch of shoreline to the west of the second set of Farrington Pt. boat ramps operated by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (NC WRC).  They collected 16 bags of trash and two tires.

Fishing Access at Big Woods Rd.

Mark Berman, Nina Verin and Harpo


The Canines for CJL group have adopted a heavily used NC WRC fishing access off Big Woods Rd. In addition to the Adopt-A-Shoreline sign, Clean Jordan Lake also posted a bilingual sign to explain to recreational users of the lake why litter is harmful to natural habitats and potentially to water quality.

Mark Berman, leader of the group, and his wife Nina Verin recruited five others to join them. They had the tedious task of removing  trash strewn among bushes and down a steep, rocky embankment. This hard-working group collected 18 bags of trash in two hours.


Canines for CJL volunteers after their hard work at WRC fishing access off Big Woods.

Mark said afterward  “What a mess!  It’s very discouraging that there are so many people who think nothing of littering their soda bottles, water bottles, propane cans, beer cans, beer bottles, etc.”







24 Paws group re-bagged old trash and added more bags. The Wildlife Resources Commission staff later removed 22 bags to help CJL.

Craig Pederson and his wife Annalee chose “24 Paws”  in honor of their four dogs and two cats.

They regularly walk their dogs in the NC WRC Gameland Access just to the north of the Northeast Creek bridge on Rt. 751, about 4 miles south of I40.

To date, they have been collecting trash into tens of bags near the shoreline.  The next step is to drive a pickup truck down the access road to haul the bags out..

IMG_0945Shoreline users often ask why the NC WRC does not place trash containers  at  access points such as these  adopted by three new groups and others in our program.  The answer is that the NC WRC manages hundreds of access points like these across the state but does have the budget nor the staff to deal with trash.

As a pilot project, Clean Jordan Lake has received permission from the NC WRC to put trash containers at adopted sites. These will need to be serviced routinely by our volunteers taking considerably more visits than the agreement to clean sites three times per year.

Even if our pilot program proves successful,  users of the NC WRC managed lands should abide by the same common-sense guideline as for any wilderness access. That is: pack out what you bring in.





UNC and Elon Students Spring Into Action


Student from UNC Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega near Visitor Assistance Center for Army Corps of Engineers on Jordan Dam Rd.

Alpha Phi Omega is a nation-wide service fraternity.  Students from the UNC chapter sprung into action to remove trash on April 5.  They cleaned a section of shoreline that faces the entrance of the Haw River Arm to the main body of the lake.

On April 6th, a group from the Sierra Club at Elon University also did their part in a ‘spring clean’ at the lake.  They removed trash from the east shoreline near the dam.

Elon Sierra Club (1)

Sierra Club volunteers from Elon Univ. haul back trash to dumpster.

Both groups found the usual assortment of basketballs, soccer balls, softballs, motor oil containers, cigarette lighters, styrofoam chunks and children’s playhouse furniture along with four tires.

Both of these sections of shoreline have been cleaned many times in the past few years by our volunteers. However, the heavy rainfalls in late December and again in March, accompanied by water level rises of 4 to 8 ft, have brought more trash from the Haw River watershed.

Clean Jordan Lake’s mission of trash removal is ‘Sisyphean’ in nature.  This association comes from the Greek myth about King Sisyphus.  He was deceitful and crafty, thinking himself more clever than Zeus.  As punishment,  Zeus made him roll a huge boulder up a steep hill, enchanting it to roll back down, forcing him to begin again.  Sisyphus was condemned to an eternity of useless efforts and unending frustration.

We at Clean Jordan Lake would like to disassociate ourselves from the unfortunate label of a Sisyphean mission!  To do so, we are moving to a new phase of our mission which is to PREVENT recurrence of trash.  That means educating citizens in the 8 counties of the watershed about the damage to the shoreline and the water caused by trash that gets flushed off the land by rainfalls.  We will also approach elected officials and staff at the county level with our message.  Our hope is to encourage stricter enforcement of anti-litter and illegal disposal laws and expansion of recycling opportunities.

YMCA Guides Little Braves Bushwack for Trash


Note 5-gallon gasoline tank for outboard motor on the tailgate

The YMCA Guides program focuses on strengthening the father-child relationship through activities that allow fathers to spend quality one-on-one time with their children.  Back in November, we hosted a cleanup event for members of the YMCA Guides-Princess program which is for dads and their little girls (see earlier Blog).

Members of the complementary program for dads and their boys, the ‘Little Braves’, came to the lake on Feb. 2 for a trash cleanup of a wooded area and shoreline on the east side of the Farrington Pt. bridge, opposite from the entry to the Wildlife Resources Commission Boat Ramps.

In less than 1 1/2 hours, four dads and four Little Braves hauled out 9 very full bags of trash.  They also found tangles of fishing line and a five-gallon gasoline tank (see photo) that must somehow have detached from an outboard motor.  The tank was full of gasoline.  The boys were amazed at all the trash strewn through the woods.  Maybe they will tell their friends about why littering is harmful.

St. Mary Magdalene Youth Group ‘Tackles’ Nasty Fishing Line

IMG_0795Teenagers from the Youth Group at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church of Apex, accompanied by adults, spent their Saturday morning on Feb. 1 at the tailrace of B. Everett Jordan Dam.  The work of this energetic band of 30 represents environmental stewardship in action.  They had the tedious task of removing fishing line carelessly left behind by fishermen on the banks of the tailrace, that fast moving water on the back side of the dam.  Fishing line is well hidden between rocks and among bushes.  In addition, the group picked up bottles, cans, plastic bags, broken fishing rods, lures and blue plastic bait containers left by fishermen.


Not only hundreds of yards of fishing line but nets to catch bait fish are left behind

This is the second group that Clean Jordan Lake has been fortunate enough to recruit for work at the tailrace. Last November, the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity at UNC-CH turned out 12 volunteers. It was apparent that far more work would be needed.

Removal of fishing line is made even more difficult by having to scour the steep rock revetment.


The Youth Group removed 17 bags of trash.  The Army Corps of Engineers was on hand to collect the bags and offer safety support.

Fishing line is a constant threat to bird life at Jordan Lake.



IMG_0794In the photo below, the legs of a Great Blue Heron have not only become entangled by fishing line but also by a giant lure. The Army Corps of Engineer has installed a fishing line recycle box at the tailrace but sadly, it is rarely used.

Discussions are underway to find ways to make the program more effective and to educate fishermen about why fishing line is a danger to wildlife.


_RK_0133 - Version 3 closeup of large lure around leg2013

Photo by Ellen Tinsley, DVM. photographer –

Santa’s Wish List– A CJL Pontoon Boat

GSK_P1020995This sleek pontoon boat was graciously provided by Jordan Lake Water Sports to ferry our GlaxoSmithKline volunteers in October.  We have set our sights quite a bit lower but hope that Santa can bring our very own, used but serviceable pontoon boat.

A CJL pontoon boat would help lessen the burden of boat support that has fallen on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and volunteers.  More groups want to do community service days and that often means ferrying large groups to remote sites.  A CJL pontoon boat would also be useful to survey trash along the shoreline in advance of cleanups.  An additional benefit would be increased visibility of CJL to recreational users of the lake.

Santa may be a little slow in arriving but our success in raising funds in 2013 gives us encouragement.  We are very grateful for contributions of $3,800.  Special recognition goes to the Jordan Hydroelectric Limited Partnership that owns and operates the Jordan Hydroelectric Project at the dam and generates clean energy.  The owners provided $2,500 as thanks not only for the CJL’s protection of the shoreline but also for removing  lots of trash and tires that could have otherwise floated towards their intake structure.

Profits from the sales of our CJL Recipe Booklet and T-shirts (see our CJL Store at provided an additional $400 bringing the total income for 2013 to $4,200.  Of this, we need to reserve about $2,500 for operating expenses such as supply storage unit rental, liability insurance and website management.  A pre-owned pontoon boat is estimated at $5,000 so we have a long way yet to go.

If you can help Santa, we would be grateful.