Town of Andrews, NC

Andrews Community Unites to Save Local Waterways

Published on: Oct 31, 2023 Andrews
homeless camp
Mayor James Reid speaks to a homeless camper during a riverbank tour on Oct. 28, 2023.

Hidden from the view of average, everyday travelers lies a threat to the state’s economy.

“The beauty of our town and the health of our river are at stake,” Mayor James Reid said during a riverbank tour on October 28. “About four square miles of land need immediate attention.”

The tour revealed areas littered with clothes, abandoned tents, bicycles, kitchenware, lawn furniture, shopping carts – and even a dismantled 18-wheeler – all discarded without a second thought.

The tour group, which included John Porter of Trout Unlimited Unaka Chapter #201, also encountered two homeless individuals, a stark reminder of the social challenges intertwined with environmental neglect.

“It’s a sad situation,” Porter said, adding that trash along the bank often ends up in the river during high water. “There’s lots of pollution in Valley River.”

A dismantled 18-wheeler branded sits abandoned in the woods on Town of Andrews property.

Porter, who alone cleaned up sections of the riverbank about two years ago, proposed this most recent initiative after a disheartening discovery during a trout fishing expedition last spring.

“I came across baby toys and diapers strewn along the riverbank,” Porter recalled. “It was a wake-up call. We never found any kids or anything, but it was clear that this pollution was out of hand and something needed to be done.”

Trout fishing is a significant component of North Carolina’s cultural and economic fabric, particularly in the western regions of the state. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission reported that the economic impact and contributions of trout fishing opportunities within the Public Mountain Trout Waters program totaled $383 million in 2014, supporting more than 3,500 jobs. The health of rivers directly correlates with the prosperity of this industry, underscoring the urgency of the cleanup initiative.

“We cannot stand idly by,” Reid said. “I am calling on both county and town officials to join us in regular clean-up efforts.”

kitchenware near water
Kitchenware rests on the rocks of the riverbank. Fishing experts say this type of trash and debris often ends up in the river during high water.

Volunteers who wish to participate in a cleanup event scheduled for Saturday, November 4th are welcome to meet at 9am at Dave Bristol Park on Wilhide St.

This effort aims to rejuvenate the natural environment by addressing pollution and preserve the cherished trout population that is synonymous with North Carolina’s waterways.

“This is an opportunity for our community to take pride in our home and come together to ensure a bright future for generations to come,” Reid said.