Clean Jordan Lake

img_0955-1-e1468708045256 We recently received a request from the President of Clean Jordan Lake, Francis A. DiGiano, to share the message about the organization. Knowing that Jordan Lake State Recreation Area is a significant asset to our visitors, the Pittsboro-Siler City Convention & Visitors Bureau is delivering this enlightening information and background with our guests.

Clean Jordan Lake was co-founded in July 2009 by Dr. Thomas Colson (now employed by the National Park Service) and Dr. Francis DiGiano, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Environmental Sciencephoto-2-captain-don-of-triangle-boat-tours-pointing-out-features-to-jordan-lake-2s and Engineering at the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill. The organization works in partnership with the Haw River Assembly to expand volunteer programs to remove shoreline trash, to inform local and state government agencies about the problem, and to recommend trash prevention strategies that will keep the shoreline clean in the future.

Visitors to Jordan Lake State Recreation Area are consistently the highest in the state each year, often 1.1 million or more. The IRONMAN 70.3 competition returns for the fifth year June 4, 2017. Year-round events include C.A.S.T. (Catch A Sure Thing, which is a series of fishing lessons for children), sky watching sessions with staff from Morehead Planetarium, nature hikes, and the annual Heritage Day event. The organization recently offered public awareness pontoon boat tours for Chatham County leaders; Pittsboro-Siler City CVB would love to see these offered to guests for a nominal fee, as educational opportunities. Currently, the N.C. Birding Trail encompasses a variety of significant sites for birders, including a portion for the Jordan Lake sites.

Some fast facts about Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, from Clean Jordan Lake:

  • Most the of the 180 miles of Jordan Lake shoreline is in Chatham County.
  • All seven beaches operated by the North Carolina State Park system are within Chatham County.
  • Approximately 70% of the shoreline length is under management by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, which includes access to game lands for hunting and fishing and boat and kayak access at Farrington Pt.
  • 33,000 acres of public land surround the lake, with not a single house visible from anywhere on the Lake.
  • Popularity of the Lake can also be measured by commercially operated, boat storage facilities that surround the Lake.
  • At least four convenience stores around the Lake cater to recreational users with huge selections of fishing tackle and camping supplies.
  • The Robeson Creek Boat Ramps and Canoe Launch areas are just a few miles from downtown Pittsboro. Less than 10 miles away is access to Vista Point Campgrounds and Boat Ramps of State Park as well as Poe’s Ridge Boat Ramps operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (overall manager of Lake).
  • CJL’s mission began with removing a legacy of 30 years of trash accumulated on the shoreline since the lake was filled. As an example, in one open to the public cleanup event in 2010, we attracted about 200 volunteers, including boaters  and walkers. We filled two large dumpsters with trash, about 600 large bags. We rolled 600 tires off the shoreline onto boats for transport back to ramps and from there to recycle.
  • About 80% of the trash is NOT from recreational users of the lake. It comes after rainfalls that bring everything off the land’s surface in the entire watershed reaching up to Greensboro on the Haw River and to Hillsborough on New Hope Creek, the two major sources of water to the Lake.
  • Pernicious, repetitive littering from recreational use mainly OUTSIDE the State Park area. It accounts for 20% of the load. It is not only a visible pollution problem being in plain site of anyone visiting the access areas but is dangerous to humans and wildlife. Fishing line gets entangled by birds. Ground animals and birds ingest tiny pieces of styrofoam. Sharp objects (broken bottles and even syringes) are a danger to people. Diapers cause localized water contamination.
  • So far, we’ve attracted nearly 5,000 volunteers to our cause in 250 cleanup events, large and small. They’ve removed 12,000 bags of trash (about 120 tons, enough to fill 30 large dumpers). They’ve also removed 3,900 tires.
  • Clearly, Jordan Lake is a vital resource not only measured by impact on local economy by visits to the lake and storage of boats, but also because it is the water supply for 300,000 including a few thousand in North Chatham. The Lake is an important wildlife habitat, where you see bald eagles soaring above or graceful blue heron, egrets, and cormorants.
  • Our mission is to keep the shoreline and adjacent woodlands free of trash for the obvious reasons: no visible pollution, protection of wildlife habitats, no injury to wildlife, improved recreational experience and even less water pollution (although hard to quantify).

Clean Jordan Lake is a small nonprofit with no paid staff, and depends on the public and grants for financial support for all their activities. Learn more about Clean Jordan Lake and consider joining them in their volunteer efforts on one of your future visits.