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!

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!

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 – http://www.dreamingsongsphotos.com/

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.