Photos of a Wonderful Forest River Paddle

I suspect if you have read many of the threads I have started in the past you are aware of the many bird and wildlife photos, photos of the wild places I paddle, and scenes of my paddling partners. The Enoree River winds through a scenic forest, and we often see wildlife on the banks and crossing the river as well as Bald Eagles and many other birds. Yesterday Yatipope startled 5 deer trying to cross the river and we saw Coopers and Redtailed Hawks, Kingfishers, and a Blue Heron. Of late I have been posting about the danger to our oceans poised by plastic waste. So much is out of sight and out of mind so the photos today are of a different subject. They are photos of a paddle on a wonderful forest river.
We just launched…the first stop

Can’t reach most of this, and the tire was too much for our solo canoes. We need a bigger boat!

Barely got started.

Hey Brant you missed some!

How are we going to get that ABS pipe in the canoe?

Wish that was a Yeti I would sell it on Craigslist!
We need to learn how to walk floating logs to clean up this mess!

Anyone for a game of catch? We’re having a ball!

Bow heavy makes for interesting paddling,

End of the trip.

Don’t worry there is plenty left if you want to spend a fun day on the river!!!

So yesterday Yatipope and I did a trial sweep on the Enoree River. Our planned sweep and camp out is for the end of April, but we wanted to do an assessment before we had people who may be good paddlers, but inexperienced with river paddling, current and hazards to the trip.

However what I am going to discuss is our observations and conclusions about the trash in the river. The river is rather small so large trees can fall and span the river in many places. This year there are no portages that need to be made. It is the most open I have seen it since 2013. There are still many sweepers with log jams. I do not think from the volume of trash we observed in these obstructions that the river ever came close to flooding over the banks this winter which would have spread the concentrated trash over the floodplain, or swept it down stream. Therefore lots of stuff in the log jams. It runs through National Forest and private forest lands for much of it’s length with only one house near Keitts Bridge on a small hill. It has numerous small creeks that enter it and 2 towns at the headwaters of tributaries, One small town on the river above where we collected and the greater metropolitan area of Greenville at the headwaters of the river. Very little use of the river where we collected.

Most of the trash was plastic drink and water bottles, and most looked well weathered. Lots of balls from plastic golf balls to basket balls…LOTS! Coolers, 5 gallon buckets, pill bottles, motor oil bottles, disposable lighters, liquor bottles, a few glass bottles, tic tac containers, even a tube of lipstick (not my color), and lots of broken pieces of Styrofoam cups of small size. In fact due to the difficulty of seeing the mud stained Styrofoam which looks like pieces of wood mixed in with the natural debris this may be the major plastic rubbish in the river. Nearly impossible to collect. There were 3 tires one still on the metal rim. A 55 gallon drum, and 20 lb propane tank. This isn’t a complete list. We pretty much had a full load of the easy to reach stuff before going a mile which left the majority still in the log jams.

Due to the nature of the trash it seems much of the stuff washes into the river by way of backyard ditches, and roadside ditches and creeks from the towns and city. There is lots of litter along the roads we drove in the forest area too. It doesn’t look like river use is responsible for the preponderance of trash in the river. We found only 2 fishing bobbers over the 10 miles to the Broad River we paddled on the Enoree.

Why so much visible trash in the Enoree River? It is small with many sweepers. When you get to the Broad River this isn’t the case. In fact most rivers I paddle don’t commonly have near this many log jams so they don’t capture and hold the rubbish. It just floats on down stream. When the Enoree floods it’s banks you still see some trash, but not nearly so much as it gets deposited on the floodplain, and swept down river. From what we observed, and the way the Enoree traps stuff it strongly suggests that just as much trash is flowing down rivers all the time. Since not being captured by these rivers they appear relatively clean. We don’t realize the shocking volume as a result.

No dead animals?

Wow. Just wow.

Thanks so much for doing your part; and then some!

@Steve_in_Idaho said:
Wow. Just wow.

Steve you are a master of understatement! ;O)

I should say you see very little trash in the sections between the log jams. Just like on most rivers I paddle. I suspect you would see much less on the Enoree if it was tree free. We found a number of single filpflops. I will be looking for one barefooted people at the beach this year. :O)

@snapper said:
Thanks so much for doing your part; and then some!

Thanks snapper, but the truth is all the great people doing cleanups in this country and around the world are only scratching the surface of this problem. Recycling is great and the USA and Europe are doing a significant amount of this. We also recycle here in SC. But it really isn’t enough or they wouldn’t be projecting more plastic in the oceans of the world than fish by 2050. I don’t know the solution. However if we could stop the use of disposable plastic products it would be a good start. A lot of the trash in the river wasn’t thrown out as litter, but washed out of back yards. All the balls are a good example of this happening. I think if we can’t change the behavior of people then we have to change the composition of what is being throw away. Public awareness is the only way we will change this. Shocking photos help get our attention, but we have to follow up with education about this world altering problem.

I have been seeing the old tube TV’s along the shoreline. I think since it now cost money to get rid of them people have resorted to dumping them. World is full of as#$ holes.

What you can’t readily see in the photos are all the small mud stain pieces of Styrofoam in the log jams. They were hard to recognize even when we were mucking around getting the easy stuff. The plastic bottles are easy to spot and collect, but the Styrofoam is another matter altogether. We didn’t see any TV tubes, but there isn’t much access to this forest river, and few folks living on it. What we found was stuff that washed down stream.

You are setting a great example castoff.

I have a question. They built a Senior PGA golf course here in SW Michigan and the Paw Paw river runs right through it so as you paddle through the golf course you will find as many golf balls as you could ever hope for. When I see golfers near the river I am sometimes (always) tempted to throw golf balls at them. Do you think that’s an acceptable approach to recycling?

We always see this kind of trash downstream of larger towns and cities when doing cleanups. It gets blown, thrown or dumped in and the log jams are a good net. The sad thing is that you can’t get to all the trash due to the dangers of working in/around the strainers/jams.

We are planning to bring grabers, long handled nets, and rakes. We realize we aren’t able to get it all. Time spent is also a constraint. When we got to the take out I found myself picking up litter, and running out of daylight. OCD I guess!

To TomL’s golf ball comments please read this

I get really disgusted at the amount of trash in rivers and along roads. Most of it was negligently tossed there by slobs.

I should add the Enoree isn’t a river you can navigate with a boat much wider than a canoe, I am hoping we don’t get a spring flood before our planned group cleanup so that the trash stays put. Also as the current increases so does the danger.

@Andy said:
To TomL’s golf ball comments please read this

I get really disgusted at the amount of trash in rivers and along roads. Most of it was negligently tossed there by slobs.

To quote Steve_in _Idaho… Wow. Just wow.

I can hear the complaints if they had to put up netting to keep golf balls out of the environment. Although, golfers might not mind if it kept them out of the rough. I wonder if the companies that produce them would sponsor golf ball collection tournaments with big prize money?

@Andy said:
To TomL’s golf ball comments please read this

I get really disgusted at the amount of trash in rivers and along roads. Most of it was negligently tossed there by slobs.

By Source, Fair use,

Pogo, the world’s most famous opossum! I have always liked that last line! He is us!

@castoff said:…We found a number of single filpflops. I will be looking for one barefooted people at the beach this year. :O)

I have lost count of the number of flipflops I’ve collected out of eddies. And yeah - never a matching pair.

I often carry a net with a 6’ handle to reach into the hard to reach spots. When I am purposely gathering, it isn’t hard to fill the Prospector entirely with trash on any given summer day. And my local river doesn’t even look as bad as that in the OP. Yeah, have found a TV set and a couple bicycles. Lots of construction debris (plastic buckets, mostly). This stuff didn’t just blow in here.

I agree that the bulk of the plastic bottles and balls probably wash down the storm drains. Balls, I understand - but the bottles are never okay on the ground. Those get in the water as a result of pure slobbishness. Seems you can’t cure that - so the problem probably needs to be addressed at the supply end.

Plastics are such a horrible thing in the environment. Glass and aluminum are more-or-less eyesores and pose dangers such as cuts and accumulation but PLASTIC is utterly evil. Styrofoam is the ultimate evil. Its granular construction allows for quick physical breakdown into smaller and smaller ingestible particles that hang around our waterways for a very long time. Its decomposition is virtually never final as it just gets broken down into smaller particles which enter the biological tracks of so many organisms from the largest (sharks) to the smallest (mollusks). Our food chain is in dire straits if we don’t do something fundamental in our entire thought process regarding plastic. IT IS NOT DISPOSABLE. Bottled water sold by the cases just repulses me. The vast majority of rubbish that Doug and I picked up on the Enoree River was plastic bottles used in bottled water and flavored drinks like gatoraid and such. It does not really matter if a percentage of society claims they recycle it because the makers of plastic will continue to pump it into the environment via the far greater percentage of careless humans that are unaware and immune to its affects. Out-of-sight,…Out-of-Mind is how our culture and mainstream media treat the plastic waste issue. There must be an incentive to recycle other than “its the right thing to do” because the unfortunate fact is that most people don’t care unless an incentive is in front of them. Do you think fast food places that serve billions of meals annually, recycle their plastic in their garbage? It is combined with the food waste and goes directly to the landfill. WHY? They could easily have recycle bins next to the garbage containers. All styrofoam drink containers need replacing with paper versions with a corrugated double wall sleeve for handing hot or cold drinks. I know many people will counter that it will demand more trees to be harvested for paper and so be it. Trees are renewable but plastic in our water is not. Certainly the global approach to plastics is deplorable in nearly all developing and third world countries. I spent my honeymoon in Bali 32 years ago and it was such a beautiful place just that recently. This Indonesian Island is the ground Zero of many focuses regarding plastics in our environment because of the regional population density and the “modernization” regarding plastics. 32 years ago the people were less “modernized” and actually washed there non disposable drink containers and had virtually no convenience stores to raid for plastic containerized drinks. 13 years ago i took a train trip from Singapore to Kuala Lumur Malaysia which is roughly 250 miles. The roadside ditches and countryside was totally overrun with litter in huge piles and generally strewn all over the countryside. I was appalled. Seems every time there is a natural disaster in a third world country, helping nations tout how many thousands of cases of bottled water were distributed to help the cause which is certainly worthy and doubtlessly saves lives but why can’t we design a better water delivery method via large centralized containers that can be drawn from with non-disposable drink containers that the people are responsible to provide and maintain. You know all those thousands of water bottles ended up in the ditches, streets, backyards and alleys when they were empty. They are then bound to end up in rivers and eventually the highly stressed ocean. We have got to get a handle on plastics. Lets start locally and do what we can P.comm crew and spread the word.

I do think that we have to spread the word of how plastic is impacting the oceans. Our thinking is land based. We are land animals living on a water world. The oceans, and the life in the oceans are of paramount importance to the balance of life on this planet. We are uncontrollably running a dangerous experiment by continuing to pump plastic into the seas

A grass roots… wait this is a group of water people… A “raindrop movement” is needed! Enough raindrops and we have a storm. Enough storms and we have a river which could lead to an Ocean swell. Alone we are just a drop in the bucket. What Brant and I did was a small drop. What we saw in the Enoree river a small drop. This post is just a drop. I know there has been a long standing cultural movement to recycle in this country and others. It is doing good, and making progress. However, from what I see of human behavior and the trash in our rivers flowing to the sea it hasn’t been enough. Plastic isn’t really evil nor are the people (He Is Us) evil either, but just recycling plastic isn’t enough. We need a cultural change of mindset. Just because it can be convenient, and cheaper doesn’t mean it is necessary. There is truth that plastic has great advantages for many products in people’s lives, but even so we have to reduce its production, and find ways to replace its use.

I do like my composite and plastic boats, paddles, synthetic rope, and synthetic paddling clothes. it seems inescapable doesn’t it. If we want to keep those plastic things and a healthy planet then we really need to make a change. A first step is to stop using throw away plastic items and short lived uses of plastic like packaging, disposable utensils, and fluid containers. Crap! I have to change! Bummer!