The moment I saw my first tire in the water, the exhilaration I felt filled up my muddy canoe to the brim. We hadn’t yet seen a tire despite our best efforts, and during the first mile of our journey, I was beginning to grow anxious for a find. My minimal expectations of finding just one or two tires per canoe were seeming increasingly probable, and I was hoping to find at least one tire to make the trip down to Scottsville worth it.
After finding the first tire and hauling it onto our canoe, we found the tire population on the James to be exceedingly abundant. About one or two strokes of our oars down the broad channel of the James was all it took before we could locate another underwater tire, partially hidden beneath sediment and waiting to be found. Many of the tires were stubborn in their placement under the bed of the James, and extra hands were needed for their removal. This was definitely the best part of the trip for me. Stumbling upon an almost completely covered tire, the chances of removing the tire seemed like a long shot. However, after calling on some friends to help dig around the tire, remove the large rocks, and pull together all at once, the tire would release from the river bed in a whirlwind of sediment. And we, the excavators of the tire, would feel proud, relieved, and exhausted.
As Michael explained in his post, the tires in the James river have a very negative impact on the environment. They release toxic chemicals into the waterway and can block and disrupt organisms. While sometimes removing just one tire at a time seems trivial in comparison to the many environmental problems haunting the watershed of the James river, together, we truly made an impact through our trip. While Jack and I removed about a dozen tires, the entire group removed around 50 altogether.
While my own individual actions to work on improving my ecosystem can seem insignificant at times, working together with passionate people can genuinely make a great environmental benefit. Often, I feel as though improving the environment alone is too daunting of a task, such as an almost completely buried tire. However, with friends in tow, creating a beneficial impact can be easy and enjoyable.