Thursday, August 18, 2011

Annual North Carolina Big Sweep Event

Set for Saturday, September 17th in Haywood County, the 2011 North Carolina Big Sweep is a one day event held to clean up litter along North Carolina’s waterways. It was initiated in 1987 as a coastal cleanup called Beach Sweep. The event expanded inland and was renamed Big Sweep in 1989. Since its inception in 1987, more than 300,000 Big Sweep volunteers have retrieved over 10.3 million pounds of debris from North Carolina’s environment. For more details about North Carolina’s cleanup statistics, visit the Big Sweep website at

The Haywood County Big Sweep will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. One site has been selected so far for this year’s Big Sweep.

Haywood Community College’s students in the Natural Resources Department will lead the way in efforts along Richland Creek from the Russ Avenue bridge to Lake Junaluska. Volunteers should plan to meet at 9:00 a.m. in the Bi-Lo’s Grocery Store parking lot off Russ Avenue in Waynesville. For more information call Shannon Rabby at 627-4592.

“Everyone needs to put safety first,” said Shannon Rabby, Haywood County Big Sweep coordinator. “We don’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Whether you join efforts on Richland Creek or decide to clean a creek in your neighborhood make it a safe, enjoyable Big Sweep by following these tips:

• Be careful on creeks and riverbanks. They can be steep, slippery and unstable. If you’re unsure of the conditions, find a safer access point.
• Don’t wade into creeks and rivers where the current is fast-moving.
• Protect yourself from the sun and wear insect repellant.
• Watch out for poison oak, poison ivy, snakes, yellow jackets and other stinging insects.
• Wear gloves, and don’t go barefoot. Instead wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes.
• Always clean with a buddy.
• Wear a life jacket if you’re cleaning by boat, and don’t wade into water to pick up debris unless you’re an experienced swimmer.
• Don’t pick up anything that looks heavy.
• If you find an animal—dead or alive—don’t touch it. Animals can carry diseases and trapped or injured animals may bite.
• Don’t touch medical waste, chemical containers, barrels, pesticides or anything marked “dangerous,” “toxic,” “explosive,” “hazardous,” or “poison.”
• Wear comfortable, old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty or wet.
• Take a snack and plenty of water to drink

The Big Sweep event is part of the International Coastal Cleanup. Approximately 90 countries and 55 states and territories participate in this annual event. The goal in North Carolina is to have all 100 counties participate in this important cleanup.

Big Sweep plays an important role in removing debris from waterways and shorelines. According to Rabby, last year Haywood County volunteers removed over 3000 pounds of debris from local waterways. Litter is not only unattractive; it also threatens drinking water, attracts rodents and mosquitoes, and can be deadly to wildlife that eats or becomes tangled in debris.

N.C. Big Sweep is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works year-round to educate citizens for litter-free waters. It is best known for coordinating the annual statewide waterways cleanup. Local Big Sweep sponsors include the Natural Resources Department of Haywood Community College and the Haywood Waterways Association. (post by Shannon Rabby)

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