Shane Benedict, co-founder of Liquidlogic Kayaks in Fletcher, has traveled all over the world to paddle, but his favorite place is in his own backyard. “The cool thing about the Green River is it’s in a fairly populated area, tucked in close to the city of Hendersonville,” he says. “But it’s also this kind of remote, pristine little wilderness area, and when you get down in the gorge, you’re really removed.”
Removed, that is, until your kayak runs into a discarded tire, clogs of plastic bottles, a car transmission and bags full of trash. In 2011, motivated by the refuse he saw in the river, Benedict put out a call to his fellow paddlers to help clean the Green.
“The first year we focused on the Gorge, which is in the Narrows, the hardest section,” Benedict recalls. In one day, about 15 people pulled out enough junk and garbage to fill several pickup trucks.
The Green River Spring Cleaning has grown every year, with more participants paddling in to cover the Lower Green and the Upper Green. Teaming up with MountainTrue a couple of years ago added more people power, both in the river and along the banks. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has also jumped in to provide dumpsters and trash trucks at the takeout spot.
“Our goal is to work the entire Green River from Lake Summit to Lake Adger, about 30 miles,” Benedict says. “That’s a lot, but I believe we can do it.”
Editor’s note: As part of our monthlong celebration of this region’s commitment to sustainable ways of living and working in community, Xpress is highlighting some of those who are making a difference by taking action on a variety of creative and inspiring initiatives.