Radford students and residents clean up the New River in Bisset Park
RADFORD — A group of about 60 people made up of Radford residents and Radford University students joined forces to participate in “A New River Cleanup Day” in Bisset Park on Saturday morning.
The city of Radford hosted the cleanup day, partnering with the National Committee for the New River and Tangent Outfitters of Radford. Participants met in the Dudley’s Landing parking lot where they were given work gloves, trash pickers and trash bags.
Tangent Outfitters provided canoes for participants to use on the river, as well as employees to monitor the use of those canoes and promote safety during the mile-long cleaning trip.
Courtney Wait, advocacy coordinator for the National Committee for the New River, said the cleanup serves as a great community event where community members can come together and spend a day on the river.
“Cleaning the river is a great way to get everyone together with immediate results,” Wait said. “You see ugly trash, you pick it up, and now you get to come back to a cleaner river.”
The New River, which flows through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina, may look clean at first glance, Wait said, but her nonprofit group pulls out nearly 500,000 pounds of trash annually.
“It’s one thing to look from far away at the river, but once you’re in boats and floating over shallow water, you can begin to see the stuff you wouldn’t be able to see from the banks,” Wait said. “That’s anything like tires, buckets, plastic bottles and cigarette butts.”
Wait said long-term trash that sits in the river can have threatening and harmful effects to the water quality downstream and hurts wildlife.
The river, Wait added, is a huge, economic driving resource for tourism for a lot of communities here and in North Carolina and West Virginia.
Wait and the National Committee for the New River host about 18 community events throughout the three states and help coordinate volunteers from nearby communities.
Some of those volunteers were members of Radford University’s girls’ lacrosse club team.
Radford junior Jessica Marshall said the river serves both the Radford community and university students, so it’s the responsibility of both to take part in the cleanup.
“I took biology down here, and we learned that this is the habitat of a lot of wildlife, and a lot of people trash it,” Marshall said.
“A lot of students love coming down to the river, but who wants to go swimming and tubing in a nasty river?”
Marshall’s teammate, sophomore Annie Lassiter, said the club team does as much as it can to help the community out, and the club team hopes their service will help promote the team.
Radford University’s Assistant Dean of Students David Horton said one of the university’s missions is service, and he believes the turnout at the cleanup is a good example of how students adopt that.
“I’m proud that Radford students take ownership in this community,” Horton said.
“This is a perfect example of them coming out on a Saturday morning to help pick up trash along the river to help keep Virginia beautiful, Radford beautiful and keep the New River healthy.”
The Roanoke Times | 381-8627
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