Volunteers gathering for Tuck River Cleanup on April 14

What is considered the nation’s largest single-day effort to remove trash from a river, the 34th annual Tuck River Cleanup, hosted by Western Carolina University’s Base Camp Cullowhee, will be Saturday, April 14.

The event features hundreds of volunteers paddling in rafts or walking along the river banks to clean up the Tuckaseigee River as it flows through Jackson County. The scenic waterway is nationally recognized as an outdoor recreation destination, with fishing, canoe and raft trips, and family-oriented activities available.

Hundreds volunteer for WCU’s annual Tuck River Cleanup, which will be held Saturday, April 14.

Those wanting to volunteer can do so at a sign-in station by the WCU Alumni Tower from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the first 500 registrants receiving a free T-shirt. Base Camp Cullowhee, WCU’s outdoor programming organization, will provide rafting participants with a paddle, personal flotation device, trash bags, raft and transportation to and from the river. There is an alternative walking route for anyone preferring not to be on the river.

Kay Tufts, assistant director with Base Camp Cullowhee and an event organizer, described the event as a tradition that reflects responsibility and stewardship by both campus and the community. She said the amount of trash and debris removed during last year’s cleanup was estimated at more than a ton.

Volunteers who participate by raft must weigh at least 40 pounds, should wear shoes that won’t come off in the water (such as tennis shoes or sandals with a back strap) and are encouraged to eat before registering. Rafts are self-guided and no coolers or alcohol will be allowed.

Event schedule:

  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Registration
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Transportation to the river
  • 2 to 5 p.m. – Transportation from the river
  • 2 to 6 p.m. – Free food and entertainment, drawings for prizes donated by local businesses

Major sponsors include Duke Energy, Catamount Peaks, Republic Services, The Sylva Herald, Nantahala Outdoor Center, Wildwater, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, Dillsboro River Company, Pepsi, Jackson County Travel and Tourism, and WCU’s Base Camp Cullowhee, Division of Student Affairs, Campus Recreation Center and Student Government Association.

For more information about the Tuck River Cleanup, contact Tufts at kjtufts@wcu.edu or 828-227-8804.