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 – http://www.dreamingsongsphotos.com/

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 cleanjordanlake.org) 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.


Princess Y Volunteers Remove Trash at Crosswinds Campground

DSC_0766-LThe Princess Y-Guide Program was developed by the YMCA as a way to support the father’s vital role as teacher, counselor and friend to his 6-9 year-old daughter.

The Waco Tribe of the Chapel Hill Y-Princesses wanted to clean an area of Jordan Lake for their service project, so Phil Rodgers, chief of the tribe, worked to develop the event with Van Murray a CJL coordinator.  On November 10th, 11 Dads brought their 13 daughters to Crosswinds Campground for a “hands on” introduction to environmental stewardship.

image_6Several unique organizational challenges were successfully met in hosting our first event with such young children.  We found a cleanup site where terrain was not difficult, provided smaller than usual trash bags and the volunteers brought small gloves.

The group focused on the most trashed area which is to the west of boat ramps extending up to edge of Farrington Rd.  Like other areas of shoreline at the southern end of the lake, rainfall events not only cause the lake level to rise but also to bring the trash up into the woods, especially in low lying areas.

DSC_0752-LPhil Rodgers said  ”I was extremely pleased with the involvement of our Tribe, and how enthusiastic all the girls were to get the work done.  Afterward, we enjoyed snacks at the Crosswinds Boating Center marina and went out on a pontoon boat for a few short rides with rental donated by Crosswinds Boating Center.  All our girls and Dads had a great time and I think they feel like they really contributed to helping keep our land looking good.”

image_9These young volunteers and their Dads collected about 15 bags of trash, a large plastic bench, a rug and plastic spools.  Congratulations for a job well done!

GSK’s Orange Day Provides Halloween Treat for Jordan Lake

GSK_P1020992 (1)

Volunteers being ferried to Wilderness Island

GSK_P1030026 (1)

Trash loaded for hauling back to Corps’ bulkhead off Jordan Dam Rd.


Just a small sample of the trash load found at Wilderness Island


Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch and children’s play furniture among the trash


Unloading trash and tires at Corps’ bulkhead – lots of hard work

Taking advantage of perfect weather on October 31,  a large group of GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) employees returned for their fourth annual Orange Day of community service to help clean up Jordan Lake’s shoreline.

Nathan Rohner, GSK’s sustainability manager for the United States and organizer of the annual event, said, “Each year our employees look forward to a morning at the lake to do their part in restoring its natural beauty. It’s hard but visibly satisfying work to remove trash from the shoreline.”

About 75 employee volunteers wore their Orange Day shirts as part of GSK’s worldwide community day of service.  Pontoon boats and operators donated by Crosswinds Boating Center, Jordan Lake Water Sports and the Army Corps of Engineers ferried  them about two miles from the US Army Corps’ Visitor Assistance Center to coves along Wilderness Island.

During the cleanup, they removed about 360 bags of trash, 280 tires and an assortment of large items, including children’s plastic play furniture and a large rusty propane tank.  To celebrate the fruits of their labor, they enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Corps’ Visitor Assistance Center purchased by GSK from Angelina’s Kitchen in Pittsboro.

We know that GSK employees at RTP have a choice for performing their community service and we are so pleased they again chose to work with us.  The energy level of these volunteers is fantastic.  In last four years, 350 GSK volunteers have participated. They have removed about 15 tons of trash and 800 tires.

Annual NC Big Sweep Cleanup Undeterred by Government Shutdown

As the clock ticked down to Oct. 12th, the day of our Annual NC Big Sweep Event, the government shutdown dragged on.  Finally, the Army Corps of Engineers had to close Poe’s Ridge Boat Ramps off Jordan Dam Rd. where we had planned to have boating and kayaking volunteers launch.

Volunteers walking to shoreline for cleanup

Walking the extra 1/2 mi. to shoreline

With just a few days to go, we had to notify boaters and kayakers that the launch site would be New Hope Overlook, doubling the distance to reach the cleanup sites on the east side of the lake near the dam and on the tip of Wilderness Island.  It meant that boaters would have to use more gas and kayakers would need to paddle 1 hour rather than 30 minutes to Wilderness Island.

The shutdown had other impacts.  The Corps had to keep a land gate closed near the spillway, forcing our land-based volunteers to walk an extra one-half mile to the shoreline. Moreover, the Corps’ pontoon boat and operator were unavailable to haul trash from the shoreline to the dumpster.

Loading boats (1024x768)

Boaters step up to fill void left by absence of Corps boats

Wilderness Island Trash 3

Kayakers ferried to Wilderness Island found lots of trash

Yet volunteers were undeterred by the change in plans. About 125 volunteers showed up. Boaters not only hauled all the trash but they ferried the kayaking volunteers to and from Wilderness Island so they would not have to paddle for an hour to get there.

Walking volunteers did not complain about the extra distance to shoreline.  One volunteer commented online after the event that he enjoyed getting the extra exercise.

Volunteers collected over 250 bags of trash and 24 tires.  Over 2 miles of shoreline were cleaned.  Seven of the nine Trash Treasure Hunt items were found and redeemed for great prizes provided by REI, Rainbow Cycles, Subway and CJL. The delicious baked penne donated by Amante Pizza of Cary and the prizes are still inadequate thanks for volunteer dedication.

Prize Winner (1024x576)

One of 7 Trash Treasure Hunt Prize Winners

On Sunday, October 13th, the Jordan Lake Environment Education, a member of Clean Jordan Lake’s Adopt-A-Shoreline program, provided their contribution to NC Big Sweep.

JLEE cleanup

Jordan Lake Environment Education’s contribution to success of NC Big Sweep Event


The 45 volunteers comprised Boy Scouts and supervising adults.  They removed about 50 bags of trash from the NC Wildlife Commissions’s Bell’s Church Fishing Access, the shoreline across from Bell’s Church, around the bridge on Rt. 751 at Northeast Creek and at the Crosswinds campground.

The trash bag count is now close to 8,000 (that’s about 80 tons!) and the tire count has surpassed 3,000.  Trash continues to pile up on the shoreline after each heavy rainfall.  But as long as we can get volunteers to keep coming to help, trash will not accumulate as it did before the arrival of Clean Jordan Lake.  Our long term goal is to prevent trash at its source by  asking for the help of counties upstream of the lake in educating the public and enforcing anti-litter and illegal dumping laws.



Biogen Idec Returns Again for Community Service Day

100_0010On September 20th, a morning and afternoon shift of Biogen Idec employees arrived for their 3rd We Care Deeply day of community service with us. Krissy Smith led the morning group of 45 and Greg Runyon the afternoon group of 25. The targeted shoreline was along Wilderness Island in the same area tackled last fall but the heavy rains this summer had brought more trash down the Haw River to deposit here. As in past years, the Army Corps of Engineers provided boats to haul the trash collected from the shoreline to a dumpster placed the Robeson Creek boat ramps with permission from the Jordan Lake State Park.

100_0028Threatening skies finally yielded in the afternoon to a steady light rain yet these volunteers continued working. The one mishap was a lost set of car keys that were eventually found as the event wrapped up so this volunteer did not have the spend the night in the woods! The afternoon shift included prizes for the most number of bags collected and most unusual piece of trash found.

100_0035About 100 bags of trash were removed along with 5 tires. This was far less than last year’s haul showing that  removing just the annual deposit is a lot less work than dealing with a legacy of many previous years of deposits.

Whole Foods/Chapel Hill Caring About Our Local Environment

location of cleanupA day of labor on the hot, humid day following Labor Day. Six employees from Whole Foods of Chapel Hill, led by two faithful Clean Jordan Lake volunteers (Mark Berman and Nina Verin), scrambled up and down steep, difficult terrain  at the Wildlife Resources Commission Fishing Access off Big Woods Rd.

IMG_0238Its hard to imagine why fishermen would enjoy to stand among beer cans, plastic six-pack holders, blue plastic bait containers, paper plates, food wrappers, and potato chip bags.  Added to this mess were broken fishing poles and yards of fishing line entangled in the bushes.

After a few hours, the team had filled 28 trash bags and hauled them off to a Chatham County Collection Center.

IMG_0240Congratulations to Whole Foods of Chapel Hill for caring about our local environment.  This fishing access can now be enjoyed for its natural beauty even if the fish are not biting.

Littering by Fishermen A Serious Threat to Birds!

_U6T9642 GBH w weight about foot day 32013

Injured Great Blue Heron at Jordan Dam Tailrace

Our last blog discussed trash brought to the lake by stormwater events on the watershed.  While this accounts for most of the trash by weight and volume, littering by recreational users can be even more of a peril to wildlife on the shoreline.

These photos were taken by Doc Ellen Tinsely, a wonderful nature photographer and lover of Jordan Lake’s nature.  Just as the water meter cover in the last blog offered proof that trash can come all the way from Greensboro when it rains, these photos offer sad proof that careless shoreline users are also causing serious problems.

_U6T9470 GBH w large weight about foot2013aThis Great Blue Heron is in serious trouble because of fishing line entanglement.  In the second photo, the fishing line is pulling his right foot behind his left foot.  He is doing a slow shuffle and trying to put the right foot down, but can’t quite get the foot all the way down. He tries to peck at the line but is pulled off balance. He is pecking at the shiny spots on the tailrace because of hunger.  But the lack of water will be his end. Or he may tumble down from his perch and not be able to break the fall.

The Corps of Engineers has placed fishing line recycle boxes at the tailrace of the dam,  a very popular fishing spot.  Yet many fishermen ignore its presence.  Fishing line is strewn all along the tailrace on both sides for hundreds of yards.  It is extremely difficult work for volunteers to remove it.  Once again, education is sorely needed to save wildlife from serious injury and death due to such careless and thoughtless behavior.

Seeing Is Believing- Trash From Greensboro Found

Our About Us page explains that trash on the land in the 1,400 square mile watershed of the Haw River is washed by stormwater events into tributaries or directly into the Haw River. It may take years but eventually this trash ends up on the shoreline of Jordan Lake. Finally, we have direct evidence of our claim.

photo (3)

Brett Hartis (L) and Fran DiGiano (R) of CJL Discovering Water Meter Cover in Trash

During a recent clean up by the Order of the Arrow of the Boy Scouts of America (see previous Blog), a thick, heavy plastic water meter cover was found.  As the second photo shows clearly, this water meter cover came all the way from the City of Greensboro!

The heavy rains from Tropical Storm Andrea in June most likely brought the water meter cover to the shoreline.  This is possible to say because the very same length of shoreline had been cleaned in April by the NC Geocachers Org and a water meter cover would have been hard to miss.

We are currently producing a 3-min video with funds provided by the Walmart Foundation that will help us to explain the trash problem to elected officials and staff in the 8 counties as well as public interest groups within the watersheds of the Haw River and New Hope Creek.  It may take years to accomplish stricter enforcement of anti-litter and illegal disposal laws and more aggressive recycling programs but this is what we need to do to stop trash at its source.

photo (2)

We also hope to produce a 20-second PSA from the video for airing by local TV stations.  We want to educate all citizens upstream of Jordan Lake that littering and illegal disposal of trash harms the shoreline of Jordan Lake in many ways including damage to natural habitats, injury to wildlife, potential contamination of the water and diminished aesthetic value.