Over the past two weekends, teams of Cape Fear River Watch volunteers have deployed to downtown Wilmington’s Northside, cleaning up trash left behind by crowds attending concerts at the new Live Oak Bank Pavilion in Riverfront Park .

Cape Fear River Watch – a non-profit environmental group that works to protect and improve the water quality of the Cape Fear River Basin – says the efforts of volunteers are not sustainable. But the group and some of its volunteers also said they believe Live Nation Entertainment, which runs the City of Wilmington concert hall, will step up efforts to clean up after future shows.

Minor controversy erupted last week after several people posted accounts on Facebook about trash left by spectators in and around the park and amphitheater after three consecutive concerts by the band Widespread Panic.

Associated coverage:After 3 days, Widespread Panic fans leave Wilmington praising the city of Live Oak Bank Pavilion

When Cape Fear River Watch published an event on August 1 titled “Riverfront Amphitheater Cleanup,” many commentators wondered why a nonprofit group and their volunteers were cleaning up in Town Square, which owns the park, or Live Nation, a for-profit company.

Responding to the comments, CFRW posted, “We recognize that asking people to volunteer their time to do a business’s work is NOT a viable long-term solution. In principle, we completely agree that the people (individuals and entities) responsible for the pollution should clean it up. That being said, in practice, there may be times when groups like ours can act faster to eliminate a threat to the environment while waiting for those responsible, which may take longer than necessary. “

The post went on to say that “we have spoken with Live Nation’s Director of Sustainability, and they have assured us that this will not happen again and that they are taking action to prevent large scale waste in the future. . We told them we were happy to help with this cleanup, but also serious to prevent it from happening again. “

On Sunday morning, around four dozen volunteers, many wearing bright orange safety vests, could be seen picking up trash in the area, working alongside members of Live Nation’s ‘sustainability’ team, who sorted garbage into recycling and compost bins.

Members of the Live Nation sustainability team helped sort through recycling and compost bins at the Live Oak Bank pavilion in Riverfront Park on Sunday, August 1.

Cape Fear River Watch volunteer Sue Allen said “there were a few bad spots” on Sunday morning, but the overall situation “wasn’t too bad.”

Saturday’s concert with electronic pop artist GRiZ – which was slated to be his second in two nights – was actually canceled due to the weather, although crowds gathered while waiting for the hall doors to open.

When cleaning up the garbage, volunteers focus not only on the park itself, but the roads leading to it, paying special attention to the areas around storm sewers to keep the garbage out of the river.

Cape Fear River Watch volunteer Anne Terry said she was not there after Widespread Panic, but had heard from other volunteers that “this weekend was not so bad”.

“I have no doubts that Live Nation wants to do the right thing,” said Terry, but in his opinion neither the city nor Live Nation was fully prepared for the amount of garbage left in and around the park.

“But they will get there,” said Terry, adding that she would love to see some very visible Live Oak Bank employees volunteering – “their name is on this” – and that she thinks the city has to “do it.” hear harshly “by writing posts to people throwing garbage.

In an email, Jennifer Dandron, City of Wilmington Media Manager, wrote that “Live Nation is responsible for the cleanup in the park and city crews are responsible for public spaces outside of the park. Cape Town. Fear River Watch has reached out to Live Nation with a proposal to volunteer to improve cleanup efforts – not replace work done by Live Nation or city crews. The proposal aligns with Live Nation’s sustainability goals. and the ongoing “Green Nation” program.

“We appreciate the community’s efforts to help keep the downtown area clean and the shared commitment of everyone involved,” said Dandron.

Also on site Sunday is Virginia Holman of Island Wildlife, a section of the NC Wildlife Federation serving the Cape Fear area. She was there because she had been told that Cape Fear River Watch “wanted help with cleaning up.”

Holman said his group was also “really concerned about wildlife” and wanted to prevent animals from ingesting or becoming entangled in various types of plastic and debris.

In total, according to CFRW, 45 volunteers “diverted 485.7 pounds of waste and recycling runoff into our waterways” on Sunday.

The cleanup was also a “Trees4Trash” event, meaning the NC Wildlife Federation will plant 19 trees as a result of Sunday’s cleanup.

Other groups active at the event were Keep New Hanover Beautiful (KNHB), which will send hundreds of cigarette butts collected Sunday to TerraCycle US for recycling, and the Plastic Ocean Project, which provided supplies.

Contact John Staton at 910-343-2343 or [email protected]