Robeson County and Lumberton have no surer friend than the Lumber River. Without it, our county would be much different, and our county seat might not be at all.
The 115-mile dark-water river, a state park, never fails Robesonians, offering us water that is vital to our sustenance, scenic beauty, and a place to get away from it all with fishing, canoeing, camping out and other recreational opportunities. The river is also a key selling point for Robeson County anytime an industry with jobs to offer comes to take a look.
The river asks for little in return, and gets less than that.
Too many people in this county see the river not as Mother Nature’s beautiful gift, but as a trash can, a place to dispose of tires or refuge to escape a fee or a longer ride to a Dumpster. Garbage is tossed into the river every day, but only once a year is there an organized effort to clean up the mess.
This year it’s on Saturday, with the 17th edition of Big Sweep on the Lumber River, an effort we are pretty confident has been headed by by Neil Lee, now the park superintendent, since Day 1.
“I can’t get in the head of a litterbug to really understand it,” Lee said for a story that was published in The Robesonian on Wednesday. “It’s a lack of respect for nature, unfortunately on some people’s parts, and laziness. They are too lazy to keep it with them and save it to throw it away when they get home or back on shore.”
Each year Lee and a band of volunteers spend a fall Saturday scouring the river, pulling from it what they can, an effort that typical yields a couple of tons of discarded items. Although it’s called a Big Sweep, the effort is actually modest. Earlier this week, Lee said he had about 30 volunteers, many of them Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and others from the Lumber River Canoe Club. That’s from a county with 140,000 residents.
There are 90 miles of the Lumber River that wind through Robeson County, leaving about three miles to each volunteer, and underlining the enormity of the task. We can — and should — do better.
If you would like to pitch in — make that pick up as others have done the pitching in — call (910) 628-4564 and find out where to be, when to be there, and what you can do. In addition to helping rid the river of trash, it will be a day of exercise and camaraderie on what is forecast to be a sunny, crisp autumn day, all for a noble — and overwhelming — task.