ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — Volunteers pulled over three dozen tires from the Clinch River in Anderson County Saturday. It was all a part of an annual clean up hosted by Trout Unlimited.
The rain muddied the water for the over 100 volunteers who came to help, leading to less trash pulled from the water.
The cleanup effort started eight yeas ago. Fishermen and outdoor enthusiasts wanted a way to make sure the river they loved so much was sustained.
"It does have a conservation component," Dave Easter, the communications manager for the river cleanup, said. "We try to find opportunities to do things like a river cleanup."
Some volunteers, like teenagers J.D. Joiner and Nikko LaRue, were surprised at all the garbage uncovered.
"It's ridiculous how people throw their trash around or even in rivers and just leave it there thinking oh what's the point," Joiner questioned.
This year for the first time, divers were able to grab trash in deeper parts of the water volunteers haven't been able to get to in years past.
"Hopefully we can expand that and we've gotten bigger every year as far as our area of effort and the number of people we're putting in and different things, so it's an opportunity to grow," Easter projected.
In 2018, the lowest amount of trash was pulled from the river, which was 2200 pounds. In 2019, organizers said even less was pulled because of the muddy water from rain, but said it could also be because of the volunteers' efforts over the years.
"We like to think it's partially the fact that we are removing stuff from the river by our efforts and I think the public in general is starting to feel more responsible for their actions as well," Easter explained.
Tires remain the number one piece of trash pulled from the Clinch.
"Tires are still an issue," Easter noted. "Not as bad as it used to be. We're kind of past the big curve where we're getting them out. But we're still getting some every year."
So what's the point? Volunteers emphasized it's important to keep the Clinch clean.
"It's really encouraging to see all of these people that are willing to actually come out here and care for the environment in the way they have today," LaRue said.