Paddle Pickup collects Beech Fork litter

Posted by Spalding Hurst

May 25, 2011


Hollis Hurst, 2, prepares for her first canoe trip as Boy Scout Troop 147 prepares for a day of collecting trash for the Paddle Pickup.

By Erin L. McCoy | The Kentucky Standard

While some Boy Scouts donned bright orange life jackets, others unloaded their canoes and carried them down to the rocky shore of the Beech Fork River. The take-out point was in Fredericktown, the sun bursting down on a green morning that boded well for the group’s 5.5-mile canoe trip to Manton.

Boy Scouts carry their canoes down to the shore of the Beech Fork River, where nearly 40 people collected a dumpster full of trash along a 5.5-mile stretch of river Saturday as part of the annual Paddle Pickup hosted by the Bardstown Boaters.

The scouts were preparing for the seventh annual Paddle Pickup Saturday, in which nearly 40 people — members of sponsoring club, the Bardstown Boaters, Boy Scout Troops 142 and 147, and community members — set out in canoes to collect whatever trash they could find in the river.

“We love boating, and this is the main river and the signature river going through Bardstown and Nelson County, and there’s some really pretty sections of it,” Bardstown Boater and event organizer Jay Thomas said. “You see the scenery but you also see all the tires and the trash and everything else.”

Zebediah Miles, 14, Bardstown, goes canoeing with the Boy Scouts four or five times a year, and said he’s also seen the trash littering Nelson County’s rivers and streams.

“If there’s an island of trash or something, we’ll stop and pick it up,” he said. But Miles was excited to focus exclusively on cleaning up the Beech Fork for his second Paddle Pickup.

“It’s fun to do and we all have a good time,” he said. “Last year we had so many tires and stuff, it really made a difference.”

Marilyn Hagan, the mother of three Troop 147 scouts, watched as the boys loaded into their canoes, paddles at the ready.

“We end up with a lot of garbage — a whole dumpster full — by the time they’re finished,” she said. “All these canoes will be so packed so they’ve sunk into the water almost.”

Hagan said her children learn a great deal from the experience.

“It teaches them how to leave no trace, because they see when other people make trash — they see it looks bad,” she said. “Plus they learn canoeing skills, they learn camaraderie.”

In that dumpster full of garbage, the Paddle Pickup has discovered some interesting items through the years, and even holds a contest for the most interesting piece of trash. In the past, participants have found a washing machine and a Courier-Journal paper box.

Saturday, participants found tires, refrigerators, bicycles, a bowling ball and a 1937 license plate along their route. Much of the trash is in concentrated areas, Thomas said.

“You float down through and you see some specific areas where people are dumping,” he said.

At the end, participants celebrated their work with a cookout.

As canoes prepared to launch Saturday morning, Hollis Hurst, 2, sat in a canoe safely on shore, decked out in yellow galoshes and a life vest with a paddle in her hand. While the Boaters have cleaned up different sections of the Beech Fork year after year, this was to be Hurst’s first canoe trip ever, sitting between her mother, Jennifer Hurst, and father, Spalding Hurst, Bardstown Boaters president.

As they set off into the water, Hollis kept hold of her paddle and helped them along as they floated down the river and around a bend, where many of the boats immediately pulled on shore, already tossing old tires and whatever else they could find into their canoes.


Boy Scouts carry their canoes down to the shore of the Beech Fork River, where nearly 40 people collected a dumpster full of trash along a 5.5-mile stretch of river Saturday as part of the annual Paddle Pickup hosted by the Bardstown Boaters.


Almost 40 people participated in the seventh annual Paddle Pickup on the Beech Fork River between Fredericktown and Manton Saturday. The group, which included members of hosting organization the Bardstown Boaters, Boy Scout Troops 142 and 147, and community members, was able to collect a whole dumpster of trash from a 5.5-mile stretch of river.

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