Volunteers remove tires from Greenbrier River

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Volunteer Carl Freeman carries tires out of river to pickup site.

Anyone who has spent time on the Greenbrier River Trail or floating on the Greenbrier River has probably noticed old tires dotting the shoreline.

Many have been there for years, most reaching their present locations through high water events in the past. To many people who view the river as an incredible natural attraction and valuable community asset, the presence of the tires was a considerable distraction, a “blight” on a beautiful landscape.

On Thursday, Oct. 10, some of those folks decided to do something about this situation. A group of trail volunteers in their sixties and seventies conducted a tire removal operation. Dick Shellnutt, Carl Freeman, Jan and Jack O’Connell, Dale McCutcheon, and Nancy Harris began their cleanup at the southern end of the Greenbrier River Trail, at the Caldwell parking area, and traveled upriver on the trail as far as Renick.

The job was strenuous, to say the last, involving climbing down steep embankments and wading the river to reach the tires, some underwater or embedded in mud. From these locations the tires were carried or dragged to an accessible point along the trail. From there, they often had to be tied with a rope and pulled up to the trailside, where they were loaded on Dick Shellnutt’s trailer and hauled to an appropriate location for future disposal. Forty-five tires were removed from the river in the process!

Turning the drought and the extended period of abnormally warm temperatures into a positive, the low water level in the river and the warmth of the water contributed greatly to the success of the effort which would not have been possible at other high-water times of the year. Future cleanup activities north of Renick are anticipated depending on the weather, water levels, and volunteer support.

Greenbrier River Trail Volunteers would like to thank Sam Stalnaker of the REAP program for tire pickup and for providing a method of disposing of the tires and Roger Pence and the city of Lewisburg for providing a temporary storage location for the tires until they could be taken to the appropriate disposal location. They would also like to thank Jody Spencer and Sam Parker for allowing vehicle access to the trail.

To become involved in Greenbrier River Trail Volunteer efforts email nancy.harris.wv@gmail.com. To make a donation toward future trail enhancement projects, checks may be sent to Greenbrier River Trail Association, P.O. Box 203, Marlinton, WV 24954.