MARSHALL COUNTY, Ky. (WSIL) -- The group 'Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful' needs volunteers for a clean-up event on Saturday.
Kathleen Gibi, the group's executive director, says volunteers will meet at the Town & Country Marina in Benton, Kentucky at 10 a.m.
From there, people will take boats to nearby coves that are littered with trash. The group began in 2016 with the goal of cleaning all 656 miles of the Tennessee River, which spans nine states.
In 2018, the group started an 'Adopt a Mile' program where groups could 'adopt' a mile of the river and clean it on their own.
That year, about 12 groups joined the program. In 2021, that number quintupled to about 60 groups. Gibi says the increasing number of volunteers inspires her
"What keeps me going is just seeing how passionate everyone is about this river and all the really great people we get to meet," Gibi said. "It's just so interesting and inspiring seeing the beauty of the river itself."
Gibi says cleaning the river helps improve the environment while also improving a river that's important to communities living on it.
"It's not good for our wildlife. It's not good for our drinking source," Gibi said. "Tourism is the number two industry in the state of Tennessee. [The river] is vital to our economy.
So far this year, the group has collected more than 111,000 lbs of trash. They want to clean 14,000 lbs thi"s weekend in order to meet their yearly goal.
Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to wear a mask, closed-toed shoes, long sleeves and long pants.