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!”


80 Volunteers For Our 6th Annual NC Big Sweep

_RK_3890For the 6th year, Clean Jordan Lake did its part in the statewide, county by county, NC Big Sweep.  The target area was a 2-mile stretch along the Haw R. Arm to the norrh of Stinking Creek.  This same section was scheduled for cleaning last March in the Haw River Assembly’s Clean-Up-A-Thon. But we were rained out TWICE and finally gave up.

A few bursts of heavy rain the evening of  Oct. 10th brought back bad memories of March.  But Saturday morning brought sunshine and perfect temperature for our cleanup.  Volunteers ranged in age from 11 to 79.  They were split into four groups to reach the cleanup site by boats and by walking.  In just a little over two hours, the shoreline was completely cleared of trash —  220 bags of trash and 77 tires had been removed.

IMG_1547The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as usual was on hand to provide boat support for ferrying volunteers and trash.  Several volunteers brought their own boats to assist. Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary of Cary were also there to coordinate on-water activity and help in case of emergencies.

About 10 students from environmental science classes at Chapel Hill High participated.  They later sent emails to thank Clean Jordan Lake not only for a rewarding community service opportunity but also for the chance to see a SolarBee unit in action. Their class had just been learning about testing to determine if SolarBees can lower the blue-green algae count. They saw first-hand one of the units just off the shoreline.

Track 4 TH ItemThis year’s Trash Treasure Hunt was more of a success than we planned.  In our pre-event survey to check the cleanup route, we could only find two of the five items we had tagged by GPS coordinates for our cancelled event last March.  So we found others to replace them.

To not disappoint anyone, we brought extra prizes just in case those lost items were found.  It was a good decision because our sharp-eyed volunteers found all of the items!  And seven lucky winners got prizes from REI, Great Outdoor Provision Company, Carolina Brewery, Triangle Boat Tours, Subway and PDQ.

The lunch of baked penne courtesy of Amante Gourmet Pizza in Cary and Subway 3 ft. sub courtesy of Preston Development Company was enjoyed by all!


A reporter from Time-Warner cable news (Channel 14) stayed for the entire event and gave CJL good coverage on the evening news.

Accounting for all of events since 2009 both large and small, by various groups and our Adopt-A-Shoreline Program,  3,300 volunteers have removed 9,400 bags of trash (enough to fill 30 large dumpsters) and 3,500 tires.

Beyond the impressive statistics, wildlife habitats have been restored, animals are less likely to ingest styrofoam or be entangled in fishing line and the shoreline is far more beautiful to look at!IMG_0955 (2)

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!