During the three-day 2021 Annual Lake Cleanup at Lake Junaluska, 241 volunteers – some who braved cold and rainy weather to take part – picked up 187 bags of trash.
“What has been so meaningful this year is the sheer number of volunteers who gave up some of their free time to pick up trash,” said Jim Pearson, cleanup coordinator from the Junaluskans, a volunteer organization of residents and other persons who love Lake Junaluska. “I’m a bit overwhelmed by so many people of all ages volunteering to help.”
The event took place February 20, 26 and 27 with additional safety precautions in place due to COVID, including online preregistration and socially distanced work zones pre-equipped with trash bags and litter pick-up sticks.
Volunteers combed over 3 miles of shoreline as well as parts of the Waynesville Greenway park along Richland Creek, County Road, Factory Branch Spring and the base of the dam.
They included community members of all ages and groups such as Cub Scout Packs No. 360 and No. 370, Girl Scout Troop No. 13283, Boy Scout Troop No. 370, classes from Shining Rock Classical Academy, and the Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith (F3) Group.
Maggie Valley resident Elizabeth Beamer, her husband and 4- and 6-year-old daughters took part for the second consecutive year. Last year, they joined in when their older daughter’s Clean and Green church group signed up.
“I thought it was a great experience and a way to teach the kids in a hands-on way how to take care of the earth,” said Beamer. “We were there around an hour, and we enjoyed working together as a family.”
Pearson also said he was grateful to the volunteers who helped behind the scenes – John and Sharon Johnson, Bob and Donna Lee Rogers, Mike and Julie Bruijn, Rush and Nancy Hood, Scott and Ruth Sterry, Victor Dingus, Boyd Holliday and Maggie Pearson. They assisted with last-minute changes and picking up trash bags from cleanup sites, cleaning trash grabbers, and loading construction material into dumpsters.
The Annual Lake Cleanup is a collaborative event organized by the Junaluskans, who work in conjunction with Lake Junaluska staff and in partnership with Haywood Waterways, a nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining and improving water quality in the Pigeon River Watershed of Haywood County.
Mike Huber, general manager of Lake Junaluska, said the cleanup was a huge success and that he was grateful for Pearson’s kind, organized and dedicated leadership.
“A significant amount of trash was removed from the lake edge as well as driftwood and large branches,” said Huber. “The lake looks beautiful and we are grateful to our volunteers and the people who care deeply about this special place.”