ERWIN, Tenn. - While kayakers and rafters make their way down the Nolichucky River, they have to paddle past some hazardous garbage.
Laura Evans says her husband kayaks the river. He sees all kinds of trash. "Lots of tires, I think he's seen some couches, Mountain Dew bottles," she says.
That's why Evans volunteered at the 13th Annual Nolichucky River Cleanup and Celebration on Saturday along with other members of the Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts. "My husband goes up and down the river a lot, and I know there's a lot of trash, and I hate to think that he's out there among it," she says.
Laura Shealy, marketing director for APE, says it's important to preserve the river and keep others safe. "There's a lot of new rafters and kayakers coming on board, and we want to be able to introduce them to it when it's clean and not all garbaged," she says.
Shealy sees larger items like washers, dryers and refrigerators on the river. Another problem they've seen are beer bottles and even syringes. "Folks just get on, no helmet, no lifejacket, with a bunch of beer and drugs and go down the river and toss everything on board overboard.. That's what we're here picking up," she says.
Volunteers spread out to different sections of the river with trash bags. Jennifer Bradley has been doing so for eight years. "I'm on these rivers a lot, you know I got married on this river, and it's nice to keep it clean," she says.
In her bag, she found broken glass, cans and assorted fishing trash.
Evans picked up trash for five hours, but for her, the result is worth it. "We live in a beautiful area, and I don't think people always realize that," she says.
News 5 was told officials with the U.S. Forest Service picked up 50 bags of trash afterwards and took them to area dumpsites.