CRESTVIEW, Fla. (WKRG) — Kimberly Jordan and her husband went for a paddle down Shoal River on a crisp October morning with hopes to enjoy the changing foliage. What Kimberly found was low water levels and piles of trash.

“Plastic bottles and glass bottles are the most of what I see out there,” said Jordan. “The trash is coming from Interstate 10 and it’s getting into the waterway and it’s flowing this way.”

The couple decided to do something about it and contacted Jason Harwell with Erase the Trace Okaloosa. The group has planned a kayak clean-up for Nov. 5 at 8:30 am.

Clean-Up details:

  • Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022
  • Paddlers gather at Ray Lynn Barnes Boat Ramp at 8:30 a.m.
  • 3461-3407, US-90, Crestview, FL 32539
  • Launch at 9:00 a.m.
  • Bring a lifejacket and other safety equipment

The kayak trip starting at 9 a.m. will take more than three hours to complete so those participating need to have experience. Harwell said paddlers also need to be cautious about the wildlife that surrounds Shoal River.

“Definitely expect wildlife to be present. Although we are coming into colder temperatures, they’re still gonna be out there. There’s you know your occasional alligator that could be sunbathing. Definitely want to watch out for snakes, especially the venomous water moccasins. So you just want to be aware of your you know surroundings and your environment.”

The trash will be gathered in bags and placed on floating kiddy pools to be transported down the river. Harwell said clean-ups like these are necessary.

“The trash doesn’t belong there,” said Harwell. “The animals and the natural environment is was supposed to be there and this is all due to humans. So if we make the mess, it’s only right that we pick it up. Because in the end, it flows downstream, ends up in our waterways or even further deeper embedded into the soil and it just causes havoc for the environment and the animals that depend on it.”

Jordan said the trash doesn’t really start piling up until you get to the Interstate-10 crossing.

“There’s a lot of people that kayak this, there’s a lot of people that fish it, there’s a lot of people that go out on Jon boats and I don’t see anybody picking up this trash,” said Jordan. “They’re just going by it. Nobody’s speaking about it. Nobody’s talking about it. They’re just going about it and not batting an eye and I’m like are you kidding me? I just feel compelled that we need to do it.”

Harwell has contacted FWC and county officials to ensure safety for the event.