Hurricanes Florence and Michael raised havoc. These two major events were followed in November by yet another tropical storm. Unprecedented flooding caused massive destruction and loss of lives. We were braced at Jordan Lake for a huge trash cleanup of the shoreline that always accompanies flooding. But our volunteers were stymied because it was either impossible or dangerous to access the shoreline for almost the entire Fall due to extremely high water levels.
The cumulative precipitation graph for a measuring station near the lake shows 55 inches rain fell in 2018 whereas the average is about 42 inches. Even more rain fell in other parts of the watershed. For instance, Greensboro had 64 inches.
The result of rain over the 1,700 square miles of watershed was surprisingly not a record breaking rise in lake level. That said, the graph shows the lake reached 16 ft above normal! What appears unprecedented is the sustained period of high level due to three major storms from September to December, with only a brief respite in late October/early November.
The bar graph shows that due to stormy weather, the number of cleanup events declined from 70 in 2017 to 55 in 2018 as did the number of volunteers, bags of trash removed and tires removed. High lake level forced us to cancel our Annual Fall Trash Cleanup and a couple of corporate community service days. Most of the groups in our Adopt-A-Shoreline (AASP) and Adopt-A-Feeder Stream (AAFSP) Programs were asked to suspend their plans for cleanups throughout the Fall.
Despite postponements, there were still 55 trash cleanups in the AASP and AAFSP in 2018. As the bar graph below shows, these represent a large contribution to our overall volunteer efforts. There are now 21 groups in the AASP and 3 in the AAFSP assigned mainly to shoreline sections heavily used for recreation. Their multiple cleanups each year are not only keeping these access points clean but hopefully sending a message to users about the importance of stewardship!
Sensus a xylem brand (https://sensus.com/) brought 50 employees to Jordan Lake on Monday, Oct. 29th for a great morning of community service! After many weeks the lake level had thankfully receded to just 3 ft above normal. The volunteers were able to reach the shoreline safely and remove most of the trash brought by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.
The assigned area was a series of coves along a 3/4-mile stretch of Kirks Creek bordering Jordan Dam Rd. The Army Corps of Engineers brought out their pontoon boat and, with the help of volunteers, hauled 140 bags of trash and 7 tires back to their bulkhead where we have a dumpster for trash and storage of tires for later recycling.
These volunteers faced a huge mess. But when they finished, natural beauty was restored along the Corps’ Red Trail that incidentally offers a nice hike with lake views for visitors- see https://www.hikingproject.com/trail/7043491/poes-ridge-trail .
After a couple of hours of hard work, Sensus employees enjoyed a lunch at the Visitor Assistance Center of the Army Corps of Engineers and a great vista of peaceful Jordan Lake.
About 80 volunteers showed up at the Visitor Assistance Center of the Army Corps of Engineers on Jordan Dam Rd. for our Annual Spring Trash Cleanup on Saturday, March 24th despite threatening weather. We served Rise biscuits courtesy of Van Murray, our new President (see photo of him) and Larry’s Beans donated lots of hot coffee to start the day.
Van Murray, new CJL President hard at work
Cross Winds Boating Center donated use of two pontoon boats. The Army Corps of Engineers operated another and volunteers brought the fourth as well as a skiff. Volunteers were ferried over to Wilderness Island. Over 1.5 miles of shoreline were restored to natural beauty.
After 2 hours of hard work, 200 bags of trash were brought back to the Army Corps of Engineers Bulkhead. We entirely filled a Chatham County dumpster and added 120 tires to the stack of 150 tires from previous cleanups ready to be recycled through a grant from Bridgestone Americas.
Thanks go to staff from the Army Corps of Engineers at the unloading area, Ann D., Eddy D. and Jan S. at the Registration Table, David F., Daphne V., David P. and Carl F. as Track Captains and Jim H., Matt D., Conn H., Jon B. and Dan B. as boat operators.
270 tires await pickup by Bridgestone America– Tires4ward Program
Three of our Trash Treasure Hunt items were found and redeemed for a weekend camping gear rental from Townsend & Bertram, T-shirt and hat from Mountain Khakis and $25 gift certificate from Great Outdoor Provision Company.
Among the weird items found were football shoulder pads, a rear quarter of a deer mannequin used for target practice, hypodermic needles and an enormous truck tire on its rim.
Since September, 375 volunteers have participated in 30 cleanups and have removed 680 bags of trash and 139 tires. This is a large increase over the same period in 2016 when 253 volunteers removed 415 bags and 60 tires in 24 cleanups.
Volunteers came from diverse groups and locations in the Triangle. Cleanups were done by 19 of the 21 groups in our Adopt-A-Shoreline and Adopt-A-Feeder Stream Programs. Two new groups, The Planeteers and Crusaders Cleaning Crew ,did their first. Our Annual Fall event open to the general public attracted 90 volunteers.
We hosted five community service projects by organizations. Activate Good’s Day of Remembrance on September 11 brought 50 middle school students from Franklin Academy in Wake Forest along with teachers. This group tackled shoreline on the New Hope River channel that gets trash carried by the Haw River.
Department heads from Chatham County government chose us for their annual retreat spending their time together to do a cleanup and to get aboard a pontoon boat for an interpretative nature tour of the lake.
GlaxoSmithKline chose us for the eighth year of Orange Day, a corporate-wide activity to assist local nonprofits.
We challenged 50 rugged UNC ROTC cadets with removing trash from steeply sloping rocks (rip rap) that lead down to the lake on either side of the bridge over Beaver Creek.
Our partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which started with providing logistical support for our semi-annual cleanups, has grown. Now the Corps assists us throughout the year as needed and the staff has joined our Adopt-A-Shoreline Program to care for a site near their headquarters.
An energetic group of 12 Troop 951 Boy Scouts came from the northern part of Chatham County with three adults. They cleared the last of trash along the innermost reach of a cove on Wilderness Island, at least until the next rains brings more!
We’re very pleased to have received $500 from the Volunteer Incentive Program offered by the Morgan Stanley Foundation. This program acknowledges nonprofit in which Morgan Stanley employees participate. So we are indebted to Norris Cotton who has been a member of our Board of Directors since 2014. Norris has not only offered us sage advice, just like he would to any client of his Durham business, but has also led many cleanup volunteer groups. Thank you, Norris!
The second annual Fishing Fiesta sponsored by NC Wildlife Resources Commission and NC State Parks was a grand success on Sat. Kids visited stations set up at Jordan Lake’s White Oak Recreation Area where various organizations talked about water safety, species of fish and birds, careers in nature, knot tying, casting, cooking fish, protecting our water and land, and much more. Fishing rods were loaned out and instructors gave tips on how to fish.
The kids received a stamp on their Fiesta Quest sheet at each station . Those getting a stamp from all stations received a free tackle box.
Business was steady at our station where we explained the trash problem and the great work of our volunteers.
Though not needed for a stamp, about 20 kids and some parents went on the Trash Treasure Hunt with us, walking to a nearby section of shoreline. The lucky kid who found the spray bottle bottle marked as the Treasure won a full-day rental of a kayak or canoe donated by Frog Hollow Outdoors.
Several bags were filled in 15 minutes before return to Chatham County’s Solid Waste & Recycling station where the trash was spread out on a tarp and kids learned what to recycle.
The day ended with award of many great raffle items and enjoyable Latino music donated by the Flor Y Canto band.
The arrival of a beautiful morning on March 25th was a great relief to us! We had to cancel our Fall Trash Cleanup because of Hurricane Matthew. And the arrival of 150 energetic volunteers was just as beautiful! We thank especially our wonderful boaters who buzzed around the lake ferrying volunteers and hauling trash, recyclables and tires to the Corps of Engineers headquarters for drop off .
Volunteers divide up to tackle 6 Tracks
About 2 miles of shoreline were restored to pristine condition. This section had never before been targeted because of the complex logistics. Volunteers had to first drive to a remote Jordan State Park service road, walk down a steep hill to a tiny cove and load onto boats.
Three of the five Trash Treasure Hunt items were found and redeemed for great prizes from REI, Great Outdoor Provision Company and the Pittsboro Roadhouse.
Volunteers waiting for ferry to trash sites
Jon Bannerman of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works closely with us throughout the year in our official partnership with the Corps. He was one our pontoon boat operators for this event and also a great help in making our experiment with Chatham County’s new single stream recycling program a success.
Some of our volunteers were assigned to collect recyclables by turning their orange DOT bags inside out to reveal the blue side. The blue bags were brought back to the Corps dock by our boats along with trash bags and tires. Corps staff and volunteers emptied each bag into a special recycle container provided by Chatham County.
3 pontoon boats and several skiffs transport volunteers & haul trash
Our volunteers removed 153 bags of trash, 30 bags of recyclables and 52 tires in 2 hours. We hope to continue the recyclable program in future events. Thanks to everyone involved!
As the year ends, here are few recent highlights. We received $1,000 from Cary MacGregor and Apex Sunrise Rotary Clubs to spend on much needed supplies such as lots of new gloves, trash grabbers and attractive signs and banners. These two groups saw the value in our work when they volunteered in October for a trash cleanup.
We’re reaching out to youth not just to help remove trash but to raise public awareness among the next generation.
This Fall we hosted a wonderful group of 22 YMCA Y Guides from the Waco Tribe. These are Dads bringing their young daughters or sons to the lake to pick up trash .
In mid-December, 13 students from the AP Environmental Science class taught by Carl Rush at Green Hope High tackled a huge load of trash on Wilderness Island brought by Hurricane Matthew. On a very chilly morning, they removed 37 bags of trash and 4 tires.
The Marine Conservation Club at Enloe High will join our Adopt-A-Shoreline Program in 2017. They will be co-assignmed to the WRC Fishing Access at Bells Church, a chronic, badly littered area. The residents and staff at Galloway Ridge is another new group that will share this site assignment.
The Sudduth Family will take over adoption of the the westerly set of boat ramps at WRC Farrington Point Access.
Hurricane Matthew forced us to cancel our big Annual Fall Trash Cleanup in October for which 150 volunteers were expected. But even without them, we had 756, 75 more than 2015. Our biggest turnout with no rainouts was 910 in 2013.
The yearly number of tires removed has sharply declined since 2013. This is because of our hard work in catching up with the legacy of tires accumulated since 1982 when the lake was filled. However, tires still do continue to arrive from the watershed with each big rainfall event.
The sites in our Adopt-A-Shoreline and Adopt-A-Feeder Stream Programs have grown to 20 with two just being added.
To date, nearly 4,900 volunteers have participated in 270 cleanup events. They’ve removed 12,189 bags of trash and 3,949 tires.
Thanks to all for another great year of volunteering!
The Cary MacGregor and Apex Sunrise Rotary Clubs sponsored a fine morning of community service at the lake on Sat., Oct. 22. Several members of our meetup.com/helpcleanjordanlake and Ranger Jon Bannerman of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Jordan Dam joined them.
True to Rotary Club motto of “Service Above Self”, 30 bags of trash and 3 tires were removed in 2 hours of work. The group cleaned along the shoreline of the far side of dam shown in the background of first photo. That work went so fast that we moved them over to a section of Kirks Creek off Jordan Dam Rd. where lots of trash accumulated after Hurricane Matthew.
A celebration picnic was provided by the Rotary Clubs at the Visitor Assistance Center of the Corps. This was perfect spot to appreciate the importance of our mission in preserving the beauty of the lake.