Another stab at cleaning up “the dirty bird”

For decades, the water quality of the Pigeon River downstream from the Canton paper mill has been a focal point for area environmental groups. The wastewater-discharge permit for the Evergreen Packaging Mill (formerly owned by Blue Ridge Paper Products) is up for renewal with the state Division of Water Quality, and statewide nonprofit Clean Water for North Carolina is gearing up to make some noise about it. This Saturday, March 1, the group will partner with Clean Water Expected in East Tennessee, a nonprofit that’s working for a cleaner Pigeon River on the Tennessee side, for a permitted march around the paper mill.

The rally, says organizer Gracia O-Neill, is meant to demonstrate that “we are not giving up hope for a clean Pigeon River.” According to figures released by her organization, the mill is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the region, and has been a source of water pollution for a century.

To watch a short documentary about the Pigeon River made by a filmmaker who is affiliated with Clean Water Expected in East Tennessee, go to and click on the link.

The rally will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 1, at the Canton police station. Visit for more details.

— Rebecca Bowe, contributing editor


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