Cleanup crew deserves applause

Sunday, July 13, 2008

On the fourth Saturday in June, a group of citizens, businesses and officials got together behind an environmentally friendly effort that has continued to grow since it's humble beginnings 11 years ago.

More than 200 people participated in this year's Duck River Cleanup, which was started 11 years ago when Wayne Bomar and Aksel Jensen led a group of young people from First Presbyterian Church on an outing to clean up the river.

After the first two years, Helen Garner, then-chairman of the Beautification Committee of the Shelbyville-Bedford County Chamber of Commerce, expanded the effort, which has continued to grow every year.

The Duck River is literally the lifeline of Bedford County. Fifty-six miles of the river run through it.

The waterway originates above Manchester and travels more than 260 miles through seven counties, including Bedford, before finally emptying into the Tennessee River.

It is the longest river located entirely within Tennessee, and is home to more than 50 species of freshwater mussels and 151 species of fish.

In total, the Duck River watershed provides water, beauty and recreation to more than 250,000 people.

That's a quarter of a million people whose lives were positively impacted by these 200-some volunteers who took time out of their busy lives on a beautiful Saturday morning to haul garbage out of our county's life-giving artery.

Doug Murphy, executive director of the Duck River Agency, has helped in expanded the cleanup into other counties, including Marshall, Maury and Hickman.

Although it is easy to see the immediate rewards of the effort by glancing at piles of garbage hauled out of the river, it is harder to measure its long-term educational benefit.

The idea is that the Cleanup will raise awareness among those who do not participate that what they do on land affects our water supply, and ultimately, our ability to survive here as a community.

Bomar, Garner and Murphy, along with all the others involved in this effort, deserve applause.

In an age when many people still disregard the constant and dire warnings about the deterioration of our environment, it is refreshing to see an effort of this magnitude radiating from an epicenter right here at home.

Still, we look forward to the day when thousands more will join in. When you consider the 250,000 affected by the quality of the Duck River watershed, a couple hundred people adds up to only about one-tenth of one percent.

We encourage more folks to join this effort next year on the fourth Saturday in June, and in the meantime to alter their daily living routine to better protect our environment.


For more information on how you can change your habits to be more ecologically friendly, visit www.earthshare.org.