Trash continues to litter shores of the Yadkin

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, June 9, 2015

For some, it’s a source of municipal water, and for others it’s a place for leisurely recreation, but the shore of the Yadkin River is also peppered with pounds of trash.

The waste littering the Yadkin’s shores ranges from plastic bottles to refrigerator doors. The waste is most visible close to Interstate 85 and areas that allow for walking access to the river’s shore, according to Rowan County resident Gregory Tano.

Tano and his wife Scarlett live along the Yadkin, just off of Leonard Road. The problem isn’t new. For years, various groups have organized cleanups along the Yadkin River and High Rock Lake.

In April, for example, Alcoa, Davidson County and community groups organized a clean-up event on High Rock Lake.

Even with the clean-up events, the litter persists. Trash is known to float down the river, often piling up at the High Rock Lake dam. In severe cases, the trash juts out from the dam for several hundred feet.

“The river is a beautiful place, and I’d like it to stay that way,” Gregory Tano said.

He owns a pontoon boat and frequently loads it up with trash when boating along the river.

His sister Rena Long, who lives up the Yadkin, is similarly upset about the plentiful pollution. Like Tano, Long, who kayaks the river, often fills her boat up with debris when on leisurely rides. With a small kayak and endless debris, Long has become discouraged.

“I’ve slowed down because I know it’s just a drop in the bucket,” she said. “I’m not sure whether people really don’t know or whether they don’t care.”

Long has names for particular parts of the river. There a spot she half-jokingly calls “the island that trash built” and another she calls the “Yadkin shopping mall.” At the “Yadkin shopping mall,” Long said, it’s easy to find basketballs and other things commonly found on an average trip to the store. She’s seen a refrigerator door, orange construction barrels and old TV in the river.

She said in one case the shore looked like it was covered in green jewels. In fact, the “jewels” were plastic bottles, she said.

Long and Gregory Tano said some of the trash may float from the Winston-Salem area into the Rowan and Davidson portion of the river, but the pieces of debris are so numerous that it’s hard to believe local fishermen aren’t contributing to the problem.

While traveling north on the Yadkin from the Buck Steam Station, trash becomes increasingly visible on the river’s shores near areas close to I-85.

“You don’t have to go into the woods to find the garbage. It’s just sitting out on the shore in plain sight,” Gregory Tano said.

In one case, fishermen brought a trash bag to the river, hung it in a tree and filled it with empty bait boxes and beer cans, then didn’t take the trash bag with them.

Long said she’s seen other boaters picking up debris. Sheriff’s deputies from either Rowan or Davidson are rarely, if ever, seen issuing citations for littering, Gregory Tano said. Wildlife agents likewise aren’t often seen on the river, Gregory Tano said.

“Knowing that it’s a really nice, important waterway, it could be pristine, but it’s not,” he said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246