A watershed moment

Volunteers show up in record numbers to assist in cleanup of Norris preserve

  • Anderson County High School Honor Society members Ben Goforth, left, and Anjalee Bean use grabber tools to pick up cans and other trash along Lower Clear Creek Road on Friday, April 2, near the grist mill during the Norris Watershed cleanup event. The two live in Heiskell. - G. Chambers Williams III

  • Volunteer J. Miller, left, gets instructions and supplies from Allen Hendry prior to the start of the Norris Wa- tershed cleanup event on Friday morning (April 2) off Lower Clear Creek Road in Norris. - G. Chambers Williams III

Organizers say they believe they had the best turnout ever last Friday for the annual Norris Watershed cleanup event, with more than 36 volunteers showing up to collect trash in the nature preserve.

“It’s about the most volunteers we’ve ever had, as far as I know,” said watershed board member Allen Hendry, who coordinated the cleanup efforts.

The work was concentrated mostly on the open public roadways through the 2,200-acre preserve, rather than on the dirt roads inside the gates, most of which have been locked and made inaccessible to motor vehicles since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020, Hendry said.

“Due to COVID and other reasons, the roads that go back into the watershed are closed,” he said. “So we did the Reservoir Hill overlook area, Upper and Lower Clear Creek roads, and some of the more-accessible hiking trails.”

The volunteers used grabber tools to pick up the trash – such as beer cans and other items litterbugs had thrown out of their vehicles – and put it into the provided black plastic trash bags. Those were left along the sides of the roads, where other volunteers picked them up with trucks to take to the county landfill, Hendry said.

“We collected about two pickup truck loads,” he said Monday.

Adult volunteers were joined by about eight members of Boy Scout Troop 73 from the Norris Religious Fellowship and three girls from BSA Troop 705 from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Norris, said Troop 73 Scoutmaster Dennis Curtin.

Hendry said there also were some girl scouts from a troop in Powell who participated.

“We started on Reservoir Hill, and the girls worked on Upper Clear Creek, while the boys helped other teams on Lower Clear Creek,” Curtin said of the two Norris troops.

“The boys enjoyed it and got some conservation service hours. The area on top of Reservoir Hill was really badly littered.”

There were also two people from the National Honor Society at Anderson County High School, Hendry said.

He said the cleanup crews found some discards on Reservoir Hill that had to be left for Norris city crews to come to pick up on Monday, including parts of a picnic table the boys retrieved from where it had been thrown down the hillside.

There also was some discarded cable from the cellphone tower that phone company crews had apparently chucked down the hillside rather than hauling away.

“It all went really well,” Hendry said.

The volunteers ended the morning’s work with a pizza lunch at the Lions Club Pavilion in Norris, brought from GameTime Pizza by Norris City Manager Scott Hackler.

The Norris Watershed Commission paid for the pizza, Hendry said.