Today's lake level: 1069.74
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Oct. 19, 2018
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Happy Birthday, Shore Sweep!

By Pamela A. Keene 
 
This year, Shore Sweep celebrates its 30th year of lake clean-ups. To commemorate the program, which over its life so far has collected more than 1,000 tons of trash, garbage and debris from the lake and its shorelines, the Lake Lanier Association is hosting a big birthday party at Lake Lanier Olympic Park on Saturday, August 25, from 1 to 4 p.m. 
 
“Our theme this year is 1000 Tons of Fun,” said Bonny Putney, chair of the association’s Shore Sweep committee. She’s also known around Lake Lanier as the trash lady because of her years of working on the event. ‘The party is all about celebrating what our volunteers and members have done over the past 30 years. It will also be the official kick-off of our advance drop program and a chance for volunteers to sign up to participate in our 2018 event, set for Saturday, September 15, a littler earlier than in previous years.”
 
The 1000 Tons of Fun party will feature entertainment by the Fly Betty Band, food, children’s activities and prizes. “We’re encouraging people to wear their oldest Shore Sweep T-shirt,” said Joanna Cloud, executive director of the association. There will be a gift given to everyone wearing a Shore Sweep T-shirt at the event and a prize for the person wearing the oldest Shore Sweep T-shirt.
 
Over the years, Shore Sweep has evolved from a lake clean-up conducted mostly by homeowners to a concerted initiative that in 2017 had more than 1,000 volunteers and collected nearly 60 tons of trash. 
 
Adding days
Until several years ago, Shore Sweep took place on a single Saturday, with volunteers gathering at designated locations to collect trash in the morning, then convening for a thank-you party that afternoon.
 
About six years ago, then-board member Gordon Brand suggested creating a zone program to more effectively and efficiently collect trash around the lake. “Creating the zones helped us decentralize Shore Sweep, to get more people involved closer to home and to have more coverage area,” Brand said. “It was easier to plan by tackling many smaller areas. We set up a scouting program so that people could let us know the areas that needed the most attention and we began advance drop-offs for those who wanted to help but weren’t available on the day of the event.”
 
Since the changes, the annual clean-up has more than doubled in its number of volunteers, the area covered each year and the amount of trash collected. “We have zone captains who manage each of our designated day-of collection points,” Putney said. “And we’re building a large contingent of repeat volunteers who bring their neighbors and friends each year, so we’re continuing to grow our participation and our success.”
 
Putney said that social media has become a powerful tool in the expansion and success of Shore Sweep. “Everyone has a camera on their phones and we often get photos sent to our Facebook page of particularly trashy areas,” she said. “We’ve gotten pictures of people on the beaches who walk off and leave their beer cans and other garbage. We really appreciate that the public is keeping an eye out for us.” 
 
Map coordinates
This year there are eight advance drop off locations. The lake map coordinates are from the Atlantic Mapping Recreation and Fishing Guide for Lake Lanier.
  • Map coordinate J-7, closest buoy marker 1SM, old beach at Shady Grove Park
  • Map coordinate H-7, closest buoy marker 4YD, Beaver Ruin Road shoreline area
  • Map coordinate L-3, closest buoy marker 2SC, Gwinnett Park
  • Map coordinate N-9, closest buoy marker 14, Gaines Ferry Islands
  • Map coordinate L-18, closest buoy marker 33, Keith’s Bridge Island
  • Map coordinate M-24, closest buoy marker 49, Old Dawsonville Highway road bed near DNR regional office and Martin Docks
  • Map coordinate M-28, closest buoy marker 2WC, unnamed island
  • Map coordinate D-21, closest buoy marker 21C, Nix Island.
     
The areas will be open two weeks prior to Shore Sweep on September 15.  “People can bring bagged trash from the lake and the shorelines, no personal trash please, as well as larger items,” she said. “Signs designate when these locations are open to accept trash and we’re asking people to leave the trash near the signs. Volunteers with boats will pick up from these areas on September 15.”
 
This year’s 11 zone headquarters are Aqualand Marina, Bald Ridge Marina, Gainesville Marina, Lanier Islands, Port Royale Marina, Balus Creek Boat Ramp, Big Creek Boat Ramp, Don Carter State Park, Gwinnett Park, Longwood Park and War Hill Park.
 
The event will take place from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Volunteers should report to a participating location to pick up trash bags and a shoreline-area assignment for trash collection. All volunteers turning in at least one full bag of trash receive a T-shirt. Many of the sites will provide snacks or other festivities.
 
Year-round effort
Shore Sweep has grown to be a year-round initiative. “In addition to our work in August and September, we’ve reached out to the all the boat-rental fleets and providing them with trash bags to encourage boaters to collect their garbage and bring it back to the dock,” Putney said.
 
The Lake Lanier Association has been an active and visible advocate for Lake Lanier, previously bringing legal actions on behalf of the lake in the Tri-State Water Negotiations and other issues.
One of its public platforms focuses on raising the full-pool lake level to 1073. “We are advocating for a feasibly study,” Cloud said. “That would be the first step.”
 
Additionally, the association works closely with a number of government and public organizations. “We are in regular contact with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources,” Cloud said. “We were among the founding members of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Stakeholders, providing leadership to this organization. We also work with local governments, area businesses and various non-profit groups to protect the lake.”
 
Each year the association has a booth at the Atlanta Boat Show, not only for bringing in new members but to talk with boat owners, lake users and homeowners about the work of the group.

Other LLA‚Äąprograms
Shore Sweep is one of many programs supported by the Lake Lanier Association throughout the year. Other programs include:
 
  • Adopt-a-lake, a lake-wide water testing program managed by volunteers to regularly monitor and report water quality at designated sites.
  • Solar Lights program, begun in 2013 to install solar lights atop navigation hazard markers. To date, more than 260 lights have been installed. 
  • Shoreline Rip-Rap helps slow erosion of the islands many lakes. Since it began in 2016, more than 3,150 lineal feet of island shoreline control have been installed on six islands. This initiative involved the installation of more than 6,200 tons of rip rap stone at a cost of almost $320,000. Other at-risk islands are on the project’s list.
  • Abandoned and Derelict Docks and Vessels, which to date has removed more than a half-dozen docks and vessels from the lake. In 2017, the Georgia General Assembly earmarked $25,000 to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to provide the association with funds to remove these safety and environmental hazards. Recently, the program has expanded to include work with the solicitor’s offices in Hall and Forsyth counties, allowing for legal action against owners of these docks and vessels.
  • An annual meeting is held each spring to bring the membership together for yearly reports on all projects and to update them about the association’s work. It is typically a social occasion and a chance for members and people interested in its Full Lake, Clean Lake, Safe Lake initiatives.
  • Member Socials take place periodically at various places around the lake. They are announced to members via email and are listed on the group’s website. 
  • Property Owners Pledge, a user-friendly contract that property owners can voluntarily sign to use best practices when managing their lakefront land to protect water quality. Those who sign receive a small metal sign signifying their participation in the initiative.


Officials
The Lake Lanier Association is governed by a board of directors. The members are President: Wilton Rooks; Past President: Val Perry; Vice President: John Barker; Vice President: Bonny Putney; Vice President: Gary Smith; Vice President: Rich York; Secretary and Executive Director: Joanna Cloud; Treasurer: Zack Sutton; plus board members John Barker, Phil Bartoe, Mike Berg, Tom Child, Sheila Davis, Paul Flood, Barkley Geib, John Heard, Ann-Margaret Johnston, Bev Nicholls, Bill Tannahill and Tom Vivelo.
 
The association is conducting a membership outreach campaign this year. It is mailing information to all dock owners offering a free six-month membership to the association. The mailing will include a refrigerator magnet that lists frequently called phone numbers related to the lake. “It’s our hope that people will take advantage of the complimentary membership and when their six months is complete that they will join the association,” Cloud said.
 
Membership in the association starts at $50 for individuals/families. Everyone who joins receives the group’s quarterly email newsletter, invitations to the annual meeting and member socials. Business memberships are also available. 
 
For more information regarding the event, see www.lakelanier.org or email lakeinfo@lakelanier.org to have your questions answered. The association’s phone number is 770-503-7757.

Posted online 7/27/18

 
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