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WCU celebrates 40 years cleaning up the Tuckasegee River

Volunteers help clean the Tuck each year. File photo Volunteers help clean the Tuck each year. File photo

For four decades, Western Carolina University has participated in a daylong effort of cleaning up a portion of Jackson County’s Tuckasegee River. 

On Saturday, April 20, the university will hold the 40th annual Tuck River Cleanup. Hosted by WCU’s Base Camp Cullowhee, the event is one of the nation’s largest single-day river cleanups with hundreds of volunteers working a 15-mile stretch of the Tuckesegee river, from Cullowhee to Whittier.

Last year, about 400 volunteers pulled about 2,500 pounds of garbage from the river.

Registration will take place on the Hinds University Center lawn by the Alumni Tower. To raft the river, volunteers must register the day of the event. Registration will take place from 9-11 a.m. Due to available gear, registration will be limited to about 500 volunteers.

There are alternative walking routes for those not meeting the requirements to raft the river or anyone who would prefer to not be on the river. Walkers can register between 10-11 a.m. Walkers should wear comfortable shoes and clothing that they don’t mind getting dirty. The number of walking volunteers will be capped at 30 due to the amount of available transportation.

The first 300 volunteers to register will receive a free T-shirt. Trash bags and transportation to and from rafting and walking routes will be provided. Coolers and glass are not permitted on the river.

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Requirements for rafters are:

• The minimum weight to raft the Tuckasegee River is 40 lbs.

• Base Camp Cullowhee will provide participants with a paddle, personal floatation device and raft.

• While on the river, each volunteer is required to wear a personal flotation device.

• It is imperative that you take an active role in getting your raft down the river.

Wear comfortable clothes that you can get wet and dirty.

• Each volunteer must wear shoes that will not come off during a swim. Flip flops and CROCS are not permitted.

Other campus organizations assisting Base Camp Cullowhee with the Tuck River Cleanup include Campus Activities, which is promoting the Wild and Scenic Film Festival; the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning with promoting volunteer opportunities; and the Office of Sustainability and Energy Management, which is assisting with ways certain materials pulled out of the river are disposed of properly.

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