The Big Cahaba Cleanup-NOW VIRTUAL - Cahaba River Society

Like most organizations and people, the Cahaba River Society is feeling the far-reaching effects of the fight against Covid-19. All of our face-to-face programs and events have been canceled until further notice to help “flatten the curve” of virus transmission. This unfortunately must include the Big Cahaba Cleanup scheduled for May 2.

Postponing this large event until a later date, such as late November/early December, is uncertain because of river flow, weather, and volunteer availability issues.  Although the event itself will not happen has planned, we have developed a two-pronged strategy for achieving the same results.

First, when conditions permit we will clean the same stretches of the Cahaba River–just not all in one day. Promotional t-shirts with our partners’ logos prominently displayed will be handed out at cleanup events. We have secured a full-time paid intern to lead a stewardship crew on cleanup and streambank restoration projects this summer, or as soon as we are able. This and other initiatives will allow us to reduce dangerous and damaging litter in the Cahaba River, and to keep our message in front of the public. We notice that many people are practicing social distancing in nature. Trips to and along the river are a great way to get needed exercise and maintain a healthy mental attitude. We will be suggesting that picking up some litter while outside can be a great “twofer” by helping ourselves and simultaneously getting litter out of our drinking water. We’ll be posting advice on how to gather litter safely, and will ask folks to send us pictures of what is collected. We will in turn post those pictures to support our second initiative.

Second, we will continue to push the important anti-littering message. While removing trash from our drinking water is important, all along we have been more focused on preemptively keeping litter out of the river by delivering a message: trash has to be disposed of properly or we will imperil a critical resource that sustains our community. “Don’t litter. It ends up in your drinking water.”

The current situation does not change our ability to push this message. In fact, it might create new opportunities to air this message more widely. Many folks are now working and learning from home, and we feel that this is an ideal time to create online resources that educate people about the need to reduce our impact on the watershed. For example, we are actively working to create additional videos to go along with the three we produced last year about litter.