Waterfall Sweep Finds Trash – Lots And Lots Of It – Transylvania County, NC


Last updated 4/7/2021 at 3:11pm

A hard days work.

The very first Waterfall Sweep, recently hosted by Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina, included picking up more than 3,000 gallons of trash at six waterfalls and trailheads in Western North Carolina.

The sites were: Bernies Falls Trailhead (Pisgah National Forest); Parker Creek Falls; Shacktown Falls; Little Bradley Falls; and Carter Falls. Tucker Creek Falls in Pisgah National Forest was deemed too dangerous to work at, so the crews picked up along N.C. 215.

The 79 volunteers at the six sites worked roughly 156 hours, picking up, among other trash, 24 tires, part of an engine, a feeding trough, a swing set, two couches, one recliner, two toilets, several hypodermic needs and several diapers.

"The enthusiasm and dedication of our volunteers during the inaugural Waterfall Sweep was just incredible, and it warms my heart to think of all the good that people did," said Kevin Adams, executive director and founder of Waterfall Keepers of North Carolina. "Some people think tossing a beer can or water bottle is no big deal, but they're wrong. Even a small amount of litter creates problems for the environment and the critters that live in it, as well as severely degrading the visitor experience. And we're not talking about a small amount of litter. Some of these sites have been and still are used as literal garbage dumps. This is a human safety issue, as well as an environmental one."

The Waterfall Sweep was the first large-scale event for Waterfall Keepers of N.C., which was founded in November of last year.

Holly Bass, the co-founder of Waterfall Keepers who spearheaded the Parker Creek Falls Waterfall Sweep crew, which included three kids ages 10, 8, and 6, said, "The selfless choice to take hours on a Saturday to clean up years and years of trash and litter should be an encouragement to others that even the smallest efforts make big differences."

"We took out more than 900 gallons of trash from that one location, including more than a dozen tires, appliances, and probably hundreds of bottles and cans – all of which now no longer pose a threat to the waterfall and creek that make that area so beautiful," she added.

North Carolina State Parks and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park reported record numbers of visitors last year, and 2021 shows no signs of letting up as popular trailheads are packed and parks are turning away visitors on busy days.

"When people see volunteers dedicating their time to making our waterfalls and trails a better place, we hope it makes them pause before disposing trash on a trail or scaling rocks along the spray cliffs that hold delicate wildlife and plants," said Adams. "Even with all of the trash we collected, we barely made a dent in the problem of garbage at our beautiful waterfalls, and that is just heart-breaking."

To learn more, go to http://www.waterfallkeepersofnc.org.

To speak to either Adams or Bass, contact Kristina Hernandez at [email protected] or at (828) 585-7327.

Holly Bass, the co-founder of Waterfall Keepers and who spearheaded the Parker Creek Falls crew, rolls out an abandoned tire.


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