Tar River gets beautification via kayak

Environmental, Sound Rivers, Tar-Pamlico Watershed, Volunteer, Volunteers, Water Quality

Posted on June 27th, 2024

Sound Rivers board member and Cummins employee Miriam Espinosa, in Sound Rivers gear, waves kayakers on.

A two-mile stretch of the Tar River in Rocky Mount has been scrubbed of trash, courtesy of the partnership between Cummins Rocky Mount Engine Plant and Sound Rivers.

On Monday, 13 Cummins employees (including Sound Rivers board members Miriam Espinosa) and three City of Rocky Mount employees met up with Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Katey Zimmerman, Sound Rivers Volunteer Coordinator Emily Fritz, Program Director Clay Barber and intern Tierney Reardon for a cleanup via kayak. The group launched from a boat ramp across the Tar River from Historic Tree Park and paddled down to Sunset Park, picking up trash along the way. 

Thirteen Cummins employees, three City of Rocky Mount employees and four Sound Rivers staff members teamed up for the cleanup on the Tar River.

“Surprisingly, there wasn’t a ton of trash — at least not as much as the last time we did a cleanup there,” Katey said.

The last cleanup paddle was in October 2023 and netted a whopping 400 pounds of trash. Katey said the lack of rain, and trash carried into the river by stormwater, was likely a factor this time around. Regardless, the event was good for everyone involved.

“On these days, where we don’t get a ton of trash, I think it’s just really important to get people out on the water anyway,” Katey said. “We had some first-time paddlers and that’s always exciting to help people get out in nature while giving back to the environment, and that they’re doing it with their colleagues is a great thing. We got a diverse group of people with different levels of experience of the outdoors, and we got to see newcomers blossom nature.”

There were a few interesting finds, in addition to the standard plastic bottles and Styrofoam. An old electrical insulator for powerlines was by far the heaviest, and two suitcases in the river confounded paddlers.

“Unfortunately, there was no money in the suitcase,” Katey laughed.

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Volunteer Coordinator Emily Fritz kayaking the Tar River in Rocky Mount.
Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Katey Zimmerman and Sound Rivers board member Miriam Espinosa.

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