The Green River Project: Help Clean the Green

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By Felicia Gray

The Nature Conservancy Kentucky Chapter and Kentucky Water Alliance are hosting a canoe paddle next month they call “Clean the Green.” The event offers three canoe routes on the Green River, in which participants will get to experience the outdoors and make a positive impact on the environment simultaneously.


The event is completely free of cost, however, participants will need to pre-register to ensure there are enough canoes available. Volunteers are free to bring their own. Participants will meet Saturday, Aug. 9 at the American Legion Park on Highway 417 in Greensburg. Times and number of canoes available will vary depending on route chosen.

The first route begins at 8 a.m. Central time and runs from Roachville Ford to Russell Ford, a total of seven miles. Sixteen canoes (two people per canoe) will be provided.

 The second route, from American Legion Park to Heye Takeout is five miles long. It meets at 8:30 a.m. and will have eight available canoes. The third, and shortest, route spans from Russell Ford to American Legion Park, is 2.5 miles long, and will meet at 9 a.m. with 20 canoes available.

During each route, participants will pick up tires, plastics, and trash from the river to promote a cleaner environment while they enjoy the outdoors.

According to Michael ‘Mike’ Hensley, Director of the Green River Project, there are many reasons to get involved, whether it be for the diverse creatures that call the river their home, or for the many people that live near the river, Hensley believes it is certainly worth the effort.

 “The Green River is a wonderful treasure. It surprises many people to learn that the Green River is one of the richest in all of North America in terms of the diversity of life that is found in the river. There are 150 species of fish and over 70 species of freshwater mussels that live within the Green River basin. That said, there are many at-risk species within the river, and since many human communities with the Green River basin also draw their water from the Green or a tributary, water quality is of tremendous concern and importance to anyone and everyone.”

Hensley describes the river as “quite large,” saying that its watershed (or basin) measures about 9,230 square miles. He also says that 31 of Kentucky’s 120 counties contain some part of the River.

According to Hensley one of the main issues plaguing the Green River is agricultural runoff and erosion, though “Clean the Green” mainly focuses on the more obvious sources of pollution, namely, tires, bottles and trash that people have carelessly thrown into the water.

 “Preserving the river is not just about nature, or just about people, it’s about both, because people are an integral part of the natural world, and vice versa. We try very hard to approach our work with that thought in mind,” said Hensley.

While canoeing, volunteers will clean up about 20 miles of the Green River.

Another member of The Nature Conservancy staff assisting with “Clean the Green” is donor and Community Outreach Coordinator Gerry James, former communications student at Campbellsville University and founder of Explore Kentucky – a social media movement where James encourages Kentuckians to share their experiences through photography of the state.

James is excited to be a part of the Green River Project and hopes to get local youth involved, as well as adults.

“So much of youth spend time on social media and on the phone inside, I want to focus on getting them outdoors,” said James.

Hensley and James could not put enough emphasis on keeping the water clean and safe for the residents of Kentucky.

“It’s a way to get the community involved in conservation – we want the community to come out and clean their river, because it’s the place where they live, we want them to be good stewards of their environment,” said James.

 “It’s important because (the Green River) supplies drinking water for a lot of our counties, it’s going to be a fun thing to do and I hope people from LaRue come,” said James.

To sign up or to learn more, visit nature.org/Kentucky and click on the “Field Trips and Events” link on the sidebar to the left.