Looking Back at 2015 and Ahead to 2016

2015 Totals BreakdownThis bar chart summarizes the trash cleanup activities during 2015.  AASP + AAFSP represents all cleanups by our 16 groups in the Adopt-A-Shoreline and two in the Adopt-A-Feeder Stream Programs.

Those in the AASP are required to do three cleanups per year at their designated sites around the lake.  Those in the AAFSP are required to do two cleanups along streams that feed into Jordan Lake.

Community Service refers to the semi-annual cleanups open to the general public and all others performed by corporate, business, university, middle and second schools, civic and religious organizations throughout the year.

USGS Lake Level 2015Regrettably, rain in early Spring and again throughout the Fall caused us to either cancel or postpone several major cleanups.  The reason in most cases was not rain during the day of the cleanup, but the lake level rise following earlier rain. High water prevents safe access to the shoreline and leaves a lot trash unreachable, floating in the water.  The chart shows that the level rose many times in Spring and starting in October, remained far above normal for long stretches of time.

CJL sign in water after Dec rainsEven a 2 ft rise brings water a hundred feet into the adjoining woods, accompanied by trash flushed from 1,700 square miles of watershed.  Rainfall from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 was 20 inches, one-half the normal of an entire year.

The lake level rose to over 17 ft of normal in late December!  This has not been seen since 2003.  Jordan Lake State Park had to close entrances because of extensive flooding.  Even now after a break in the rain, the lake level is still 16 ft above normal.

Farrington Pt. Boat ramps after Dec rainsOur volunteers will face an enormous cleanup challenge once the lake level recedes to normal.  They will be removing trash that extends hundreds of feet back from the shoreline into the woods.


The graph shows the cumulative results of our volunteer effort since 2009. Over 4,000 volunteers have participated.  They have Summary vol., bags, tires 2009-2015removed nearly 11,000 bags of trash and 3,800 tires.

We estimate the value of their work in terms of goods and services donated at about $550,000. No agency of local, regional or state government can tackle the problem.

The obvious solution is trash prevention within the watershed.  This is an enormous challenge for a grassroots nonprofit like Clean Jordan Lake with no paid staff.

We hope to gain the support of all nine counties in the watershed in new public awareness campaigns. We will continue our Educational Pontoon Boat Tours for County Leaders, started with Durham, this Spring.  The “We All Live in the Watershed” theme promoted in elementary schools by the Soil and Water Conservation Division of NC Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services is an excellent example of what needs to be done to sensitize our citizens about good stewardship.

75 Volunteers in Fall Trash Cleanup Make a Difference!

Trash load in cove 10-17-15 (1024x575)

Trash coming from upstream on Haw R. in cove

Thanks to 75 energetic volunteers in our Annual Fall Cleanup on Oct. 17th, we removed most of the stain on one-half mile of shoreline. The coves near Stinking Creek entrance to the lake were covered with trash .

This same section of shoreline was trash-free after our 2014 Fall Cleanup. The new load came from everywhere upstream being flushed off the land by recent heavy rains on the Haw River watershed .


Kayakers pick up floating trash and pass along to “mother” boats

Unfortunately, a lot of the floating trash had to be left behind for another event during a lower lake level. Nonetheless, we are grateful for a few boaters who were scooping it out and to a few others on land who walked into the water.

Kayaker 10-17-2015 (900x600)

Doug and his faithful kayak in their 9th cleanup with CJL

Others combed the shoreline and still others ferried the trash to a dumpster about 2 miles away at the Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters.

Many of our volunteers are repeats. For instance, Doug and his kayak (see photo) have been to NINE of our events! And let’s also recognize the continued help of the Army Corps of Engineers (see photo of their trash filled pontoon boat).

We’re happy to provide an opportunity for youth to volunteer. After all, they’re the future stewards of our environment. Stefan Klakovich is a dedicated environmental science teacher in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School system. He recruited about 20 high school students for our event. Others came from Apex and Pittsboro schools.

CJL 2nd set photos 10-17-2015 14

Youth participation in cleanup

University students also participated. We had a group from UNC, Dept. of Chemistry’s Graduate and Professional Student Federation and another from UNC-Pembroke who were each volunteering during their Fall Breaks.

Annual Fall Trash Cleanup 10-17-15

U.S. Army Corps Engineers brings pontoon boat to ferry trash

We got TV coverage from Time-Warner News and in the Daily Tar Heel, written by Eric Schwartz who was on the scene talking to our volunteers.Shoreline cleaned on 10-17-15


One of the five winners to find a Trash Treasure Hunt item

The map shows the cleanup area. Not counting all the big piece of trash such as pails of construction adhesives, 170 bags of trash and 13 tires were removed.

Everyone was treated to a great lunch. All five of our Trash Treasure Hunt items were found and redeemed for nice prizes from Great Outdoor Provision Company, Townsend Bertram and Company, Mountain Khakis and the Pittsboro Roadhouse.

Come join us for our Spring Cleanup!

Durham Leaders Tour Jordan Lake

Photo 1-Nine leaders from Durham County. (1024x612)

L to R. Tobin Freid, Don Moffitt, Tania Dautlick, Wendy Jacobs, Brenda Howerton, Michael Page, Sylvia Le Goff, Ellen Reckhow, Steve Schewel, and Fran DiGiano.

We brought nine leaders from Durham County and City to the lake last Friday. TriangleBoat Tours donated their services for the event.

This was our first in a series of tours for leaders of the eight counties in the watershed. We want them to appreciate the beauty of the lake while also seeing why we need to educate all citizens about trash prevention.

Representing Durham County were Commissioners Michael Page (Chairman), Brenda Howerton (Vice-chairman), Wendy Jacobs and Ellen Reckhow. Coming from the City of Durham were Council members Don Moffitt and Steve Schewel along with Tobin Freid of the Sustainability Office and Tania Dautlick of Keep Durham Beautiful. Sylvia Le Goff represented El Centro Hispano, Inc.

Photo 2-Captain Don of Triangle Boat Tours pointing out features to Jordan Lake (2)

On board boat photo: Captain Don Watkins of Triangle Boat Tours pointing out features of Jordan Lake

These leaders were impressed by soaring birds, vast expanses of water and a shoreline uninterrupted by a single dwelling. They were also shocked to see so much trash when we pulled up onto a section of shoreline where most comes from upstream on the Haw River and New Hope Creek. Their spontaneous response was to hop off the boat to pick up trash!

Photo 3- trash pickup by county leaders (1024x683)

Displaying trash items: L to R. Tania Dautlick, Tobin Freid, Don Moffitt and Steve Schewel

Schewel said afterwards “we were reminded of our responsibility in Durham to help keep the lake clean. Moffitt added “it was an educational experience. The lake is an important drinking water source for Durham and protecting it is a priority.” And Le Goff remarked that “education is the key to trash prevention and this begins by raising the awareness of our youth.”

All participants made many good suggestions for how Clean Jordan Lake could more effectively partner with counties in trash prevention. We’re very encouraged to continue this outreach effort to leaders of the other seven counties.

Global Youth Pick Up Trash

How fitting that Wake County high school students and their guest students from around the world should volunteer on Sept. 19th, just two days before the International Day of Peace celebration!

JordanLakeGroupSherri Brown, the Wake County coordinator for the American Cultural Exchange Service (exploretheworld.org), brought 13 international students, their host students and parents for a morning of community service. The guest students were from Slovakia (2), Serbia (3), Bosnia, Herzegovina, Germany(2), Kenya, Russia, Indonesia and South Korea.

Jordan Lake Fran groupAfter a long hike through the woods bordering Stinking Creek, the group reached a huge mess of trash near a large cove facing out toward the Haw River Arm. They collected about 15 bags of trash and a couple of tires.

The students felt their work made a difference and clearly, they all enjoyed working together while furthering international understanding. It would be interesting to know what the visiting students say about trash in the U.S. in their next email back home!

Remembering 9/11 with Community Service

Clean Jordan Lake hosted two wonderful, community service events over the weekend of September 11.

Activate Good 9-11 Group photo

Activate Good Volunteers Getting Ready to Tackle Trash

We were one of 80 nonprofits to offer community service on the Day of Remembrance organized by Activate Good (activategood.org) . The idea was to unite on this day to honor those lost on 9/11 with volunteerism and acts of kindness.

Activate Good 9-11 Digital Media workers

Durham Literacy Center Volunteers Clowning Around

Nearly 2,000 volunteers participated. Of these, 31 volunteered with CJL representing Wells Fargo, Fidelity Investments, EMC Corporation, Digital P Media and the Durham Literacy Center. They removed about 40 bags of trash and five tires from a chronic problem area on Wilderness Island, near the entrance of Robeson Creek into the Haw River Arm.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers later picked up these bags by boat.

Acitvate Good 9-11 closeup of workers

Activate Good Volunteers Cleared Trash from Big Cove on Wilderness Island

Each rainfall flushes more trash down the Haw River to end up in this cove and in many others further down towards the dam.

Then on Sunday of that weekend, 24 student volunteers from Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity at UNC-CH came to the Marthas Chapel Rd. access to the shoreline near the Farrington Point bridge. They had the extremely challenging job of removing hundreds of pieces of trash caught in between large rocks forming the rip rap around the bridge.

Group photo ALL volunteers (2)

Alpha Phi Omega at UNC-CH Volunteers After Cleaning Beach Off Marthas Chapel Rd.

In addition, the group removed trash from over 1/2 mile of shoreline leading over to Marthas Chapel Rd., littered with stuff left behind by careless visitors.

Volunteers on rip (1)

Hard Work Removing Trash from Between Rocks Near Farrinton Pt. Bridge

The trash on the rip rap was not only the usual assortment of broken beer bottles and beer cans. These volunteers also had to tug and pull at hundreds of feet of fishing line, some with lures attached, snagged on rocks and ready to be entangled by birds.

Adam under bridge w trash (2)

Nightime Fishing Aftermath- Propane Tanks Used For Lanterns Discarded!

And even more disgusting than the fishing line and broken beer bottles was the tens of camping propane tanks. Volunteers were yanking them out from among the rocks. I’m told that these tanks are attached to lanterns for night fishing.

In less than two hours, these wonderful Alpha Phi Omega volunteers removed 26 heavily loaded bags of trash and one tire.

All this stuff is here because users of the lake’s shoreline seem insensitive to their environment. Ironically, their trash is destroying the very place they want to go back to!!

picking up bags1

Jon Bannerman of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Heavy Load From Activate Good’s Day of Remembrance (yours truly in foreground)


Launch of SyngentaProud Community Service Day

We were pleased to have been chosen for the kick off of a new corporate community service program called SyngentaProud. Beth Mathews of Syngenta’s Protein Expression Product Safety Group in the region pulled together 24 employees to come to the lake on August 27. They hopped aboard with Captain Don’s Triangle Boat Tours in the morning to see the beauty of the lake and its soaring birds. Lunch was at the Visitor Assistance Center of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers perched above the lake with a great view to the B. Everett Jordan dam.

OCSpic1Captain Don then ferried them a short distance across the Haw River Arm for an afternoon of service with us. These hard working volunteers picked up trash all along the tip of the peninsula known as Wilderness Island.


OCSpic3They carried 32 bags and rolled 3 tires back to the waiting pontoon boat for the return trip to the Corps’ dock and unloading .

Beth said “we really enjoyed our day at the lake and were so glad we could help out in the community. I received a lot of feedback that the event (both boating and the cleanup) were a success.”

Clean Jordan Lake’s Goal Gains Broad Support from Volunteers

The diversity of Jordan Lake clean up volunteers who turned out in June encourages us to push onward.

YMCA Guides with their trash

YMCA Guides Cleanup

In early June, the YMCA Guides Dasamongueponke Tribe brought six dads with their seven sons to clean a littered shoreline at Northeast Creek off NC Highway 751. Their purpose is to strengthen the father-child relationship through one-on-one activities. This was the third time we’ve had either the ‘princesses’ or ‘braves’, ages six to nine, come to Jordan Lake to learn why littering is bad behavior.


BB&T volunteers at work

Later in June, a total of 13 information technology specialists from BB&T volunteered through their annual Lighthouse Project, aimed at making a positive impact on the lives of people. William Posse, the group’s leader, said, “We wanted to work with CJL because of their great work in making the lake’s shoreline enjoyable and safe for all visitors.”


Huge trash load facing BB&T volunteers

The BB&T volunteers tackled a cove on the Haw River Arm where trash from the watershed upstream gets trapped after heavy rain. They picked up 53 bags of trash and several tires in just two hours on an extremely hot afternoon. It was exhausting work, but the natural beauty of the lake seen on the boat ride back reinforced why removing trash is important.


Just some of the 53 bags of trash from the BB&T cleanup

On the last day of June, seven network management specialists from the Durham office of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina volunteered at Third Fork Creek, which feeds into New Hope Creek that flows into Jordan Lake. It was another hot afternoon made worse by the huge amount of trash to be removed.

Troy Page, director of Network Contracting and Strategic Development for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, said afterwards, “Who knew picking up trash could be so much fun and so important to bring about community awareness of this mission.” The volunteers took pride in surveying the cleaned area after removing 15 bags of trash, several tires and even a very large toy jeep. They had good things to say about their experience — “Enjoyed the experience . . . a real eye-opener for me.”

Cleanup Area (4)

Blue Cross and Blue Shield volunteers spread out to tackle trash

“I never knew this much trash collected in places like this. Clean Jordan Lake is a worthy initiative.”

“It was very satisfying to see how much trash we collected, and how clean the area looked when we were done! I would encourage more people to volunteer to do these cleanups!”

“Working with Clean Jordan Lake was such an eye-opening experience. It was very sad to see just how much pollution accumulates from seemingly minor actions”

Results of Blue Cross Blue Shield

15 bags of trash , 2 tires and assorted large objects collected by Blue Cross and Blue Shield volunteers

“Our work today made it clear that even the smallest amounts of litter can accumulate to be a huge problem – for the animals, our water system, and to us. I will never again look at a Styrofoam cup the same.”

“It was a fun time. I was amazed at how much trash (and the type of trash) we found in one little spot. We pulled together to get a lot done in a small amount of time….and we made a BIG difference.”

And these three cleanups were in addition to more hard work by our Adopt-A-Shoreline groups. Just in the last two months, 34 volunteers from nine groups have removed 84 bags of trash from their assigned sites. Volunteerism is working, not just measured by the number of bags, but by the example set for others when they see us caring for the lake.

Goal of 10,000th Bag Reached in Annual Spring Trash Cleanup

Thanks to 120 volunteers on Saturday, March 28th, we reached the goal of of collecting the 10,000th bag of trash in our history!  As important, the natural beauty of one-half mile of shoreline was restored.  These volunteers removed 300 bags of trash, enough to fill a large dumpster, in just two hours. They also rolled away 150 tires bringing our total to 3,700!revised HRA 3-14-15 site

The target area was a cove on the east side of the Haw River Arm near the confluence with Robeson Creek.

A flotilla of volunteer boaters ferried the trash bags and tires back to the Robeson Creek Boating Access. Crosswinds Boating Center donated use of a pontoon boat.Chatham County Solid Waste & Recycling Division of Environmental Quality provided a dumpster for the trash and hauled it away.  A grant from Bridgestone America’s Tires4Ward program will enable recycling of the tires.

The diversity of volunteers was inspirational.  We had students from Carrboro High, Carolina Central Community College, UNC-CH, NCSU, staff from NC DENR, companies such as SOLitude Lake Management and community service organizations

Scouring the shorelinesuch as Activate Good of Durham/Orange Counties and the National Iranian-American Council.

We got great TV coverage from TimeWarner News.  Everyone enjoyed the celebration lunch, the award of prizes to those lucky enough to find the Trash Treasure Hunt items and the raffle of a dinner at the Pittsboro Road House in recognition of reaching our goal.

Volunteers luncheon after event

We’ve  cleaned many of the same areas several times in the last 5 years because every rainfall flushes more trash from all counties in the 1,400 square miles of watershed.  Can you imagine the damage to natural habitats and beauty without our volunteers?

The only way to solve this problem is to educate citizens about their connectivity to the lake. That’s our long-term goal.

We plan to invite public interest groups, educators and county staff and elected officials to take a pontoon boat tour of the lake with us.  They will see natural vistas uninterrupted by a single house on the shoreline, great blue heron, bald eagles and  much more beauty.  But they will also see trash.  We will urge these participants to help us raise public awareness throughout the 1,700 sq. mi. of watershed.

Meadowmont Friends of Little Creek Join New Clean Jordan Lake Program

CJL's Adopt-A-Feeder Stream at Little Creek in CHA group of residents of Meadowmont Village gathered at the Little Creek Trailhead on January 15 to begin participation in Clean Jordan Lake’s Adopt-A-Feeder Stream Program.  Bolin Creek and Booker Creek join together in Chapel Hill to form Little Creek that flows along the northern edge of Meadowmont Village before turning south to Jordan Lake.

Little Creek AAFSPThe Little Creek trail runs along low lying land managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Jordan Lake.  Meadowmont resident , Eric Teagarden, has led an effort to improve the trail.  He said “When I heard about Clean Jordan Lake’s new program, I knew this would be a good match for us.  We see lots of trash washed down to the creek after rainfalls. ”

The Little Creek adoption is the second in Clean Jordan Lake’s new initiative to stop trash from reaching the lake.  The first adoption was along the Town of Apex’s Beaver Creek Greenway.

Our long-term goal is trash prevention in the entire watershed of Jordan Lake.  We soon hope to move even further in that direction with a public education campaign to sensitize watershed citizens to the fact anything thrown on the ground will eventually be flushed to the lake by rainfall events.

Bill Ferrell, manager of Meadowmont, was on hand for installation of the adoption sign and noted “this should make our residents more aware of their connection to Jordan Lake.”  Afterwards, the Meadowmont volunteers forged into the woodlands for their first cleanup.  They filled 14 trash bags full of glass and plastic bottles, assorted playground balls, car parts, and other junk. Teagarden added “We plan to tackle another area of the trail on February 8th and probably fill 20-30 more bags.”

We’re pleased to see the growth in our Adopt-A-Shoreline Program, the forerunner to the Adopt-A-Feeder Stream Program, as well as the increase in community service days by various groups throughout the year.  Since we incorporated Clean Jordan Lake in 2009, over 3,400 volunteers have participated in about 140 cleanups, large and small.  They’ve removed 9,500 bags of trash and an astounding 3,500 tires.

We expect to reach a milestone in March– 10,000 bags of trash removed!  Look later to see how we plan to commemorate the occasion.

Waco Tribe of Y Princesses and Trail Blazers Return Engagement!


Restoring shoreline beauty—15 bags of trash removed from Bell’s Church lake access

We were pleased once again to host the Waco Tribe of the YMCA’s Guide Program. The Y Princess program is for 6-9 year-old girls and the Y Trail Blazers, for  those in Grade 4 and older.

The Y programs focus on strengthening the father-child relationship through activities that allow fathers to spend quality one-on-one time with their children.


Caroline, Graylyn, Katie, and Michaela pick up trash strewn around a “Littering is Illegal” sign. How do you explain such behavior to a child?

This year’s event was led by Eleanor Herr, Director of Jordan Lake Environment Education (JLEE), who is also a long-standing volunteer with Clean Jordan Lake.

Matt Valentine, Chief of the Trail Blazers said that”the girls were thrilled to discover the JLEE Center just a couple miles down the road from our neighborhood, and find out about the services that it offers. Eleanor was a wonderful host to our group, providing the introduction to the girls about why it is important to remove trash from our natural areas.”


Alyssa finds a deer spine. We all know that litterbugs are spineless, but this is ridiculous!

We all know that educating our youth about protecting our environment gives us hope for the future.  As Matt said “When the girls saw the entire line of full trash bags they had collected, it made a big impression on them. The Dads have noticed our girls wanting to pick up random litter in other areas.”

These young girls added their own impressions of trash–
“How could someone break this much glass in such a small place?”

“All this fishing line could hurt a lot of birds.”

“I found yucky old boxer shorts. Gross!”