The Tug Fork River is a beautiful attraction in Southern West Virginia and over the past few years, it has become increasingly more popular among residents and visitors alike. Whether they are fishing, hiking, or even riding the trails, it is hard to resist the natural beauty of the river and surrounding wildlife.
Unfortunately, sometimes there are things that detract from the beauty. Namely, inappropriate disposal of tires, which leaves harmful and unattractive debris along the river banks and in the water. It’s this type of problem that led to a collaboration of sorts between WV DEP, REAP, the Friends of the Tug Fork River, City of Williamson, Mingo County Solid Waste Authority, and Veolia Water.
How did it all happen? REAP (the Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan) awarded a grant to the City of Williamson to hire two employees working 2 Saturdays a month collecting and loading disposed tires from drop off locations. “When the trailer gets full, REAP picks it up and drops off an empty one,” says John Burchett, with Friends of the Tug Fork River.
This program is open to any West Virginia resident (they must be from WV due to the nature of the funding) and the tires themselves must be off of the rim in order to be accepted. Individuals can drop up to ten tires for free, and no business or tire dealer tires are accepted.
These organizations came together to do this in order to help individuals dispose of tires in a less harmful way. “Tires are difficult for individuals to dispose of, and because of that, they tend to end up dumped over a hillside or in our river,” John says. “By providing a free disposal option, we hope to prevent them from ending up in the wrong place.”
Since 2019, John says, Friends of the Tug Fork River has been leading an effort to prevent incorrect tire disposal that has recovered nearly 7,000 tires from the river. However, pulling them out of the river isn’t what you’d call easy. “It’s extremely hard work, so we were thinking of ways to prevent them from ending up there in the first place,” he says. “We thought the best way to do that was to give people an opportunity to do the right thing for free.”
There are three more tire drop off days left in 2022: October 22, November 12, and December 10. At the end of the year, the project contract will expire, and it will be up to the organizers to evaluate its success and decide whether or not to bring it back for 2023. To contribute to this program’s success and keep harmful waste out of our waterways, visit the Friends of the Tug Fork River website