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Dec. 11, 2017
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Shore Sweep rules!

By Pamela A. Keene
 
The action began right before Hurricane Irma came calling at Lake Lanier. In fact, some early collection activities were postponed for this year’s Lake Lanier Association Shore Sweep. But a little bad weather only fired up the group’s volunteers even more for the late-September clean-up event.
 
Between 800 and 1,000 volunteers, both as advance collectors and day-of participants, collected what may be a new record for trash and debris around the lake. “I’d say that Hurricane Irma had some effect on our increase in collections this year,” said Bonny Putney, board member with the association and long-time chair of Shore Sweep. “And we had excellent support from our volunteers and groups like the Lake Lanier boaters, the Atlanta Sail and Power Squadron, and Marine Max.”
 
Putney said that the total collection will likely exceed 40 tons this year. “We had at least 13 tons at War Hill Park, plus more than 10 tons that were collected in advance,” she said. “And we had more volunteers and more boats than in the past, so this was a really good year.” 
 
Being a good year can be a positive or a negative. For instance, it’s very positive when the association logs big numbers in volunteers and trash collection. But, if there’s that much trash and debris around the lake, it’s not a good thing.
 
“It continues to amaze me the number of people who come to enjoy the lake, then just leave their trash behind,” said Tammy Wright, captain for the second year at Big Creek Park. “And we see it all the time. They’ll come down to boat or to enjoy the beaches and water, and then walk away without cleaning up after themselves. It would be ideal if everyone who came to the lake did their part all year long. Then maybe we wouldn’t need Shore Sweep. But until that time …” 
 
Over the past three decades, the event has evolved from a one-day trash pickup followed by a centrally located picnic and celebration starting mid-afternoon. These days, the work begins long before Shore Sweep day, with board members and volunteers working with sponsors to line up dumpsters, barges and collection boats.
 
 About 10 years ago, board members began an active campaign to attack the trash problem by dividing the lake into geographic zones, setting up advance scouting and even creating designated areas for trash and debris to be collected and deposited several weeks before the actual Shore Sweep Day.
 
In recent years, the group has designated a dozen or so day-of collection sites, each with a volunteer captain. Sites supplied trash bags, T-shirts and collection tools and most had a fleet of boats at the ready to take volunteers to various locations around the lake. The work takes place from 8 a.m. until midday, then volunteers are treated to lunch and a chance to socialize.
 
In addition to Shore Sweep, the association has been actively involved in the removal of abandoned vessels and derelict docks that could pose safety or water-quality issues. 
 
This year, the US Army Corps of Engineers provided support in the way of donating 300 pairs of heavy-duty work gloves and other equipment to help with collection. The Corps was also scheduled to remove two abandoned docks near Pemmican Run the week after the event.
 
Many of the group’s volunteers are long-time members and supporters of the Lake Lanier Association. They help out throughout the year with the association’s many projects, including Adopt-a-Lake, solar light program and the Property Owners Pledge.
 
“We can always use more volunteers for our projects,” Putney said. “If you’re interested, we can certainly find a place for you.”
 
The annual event takes place on the fourth Saturday of September. For more information or to participate in the association, visit lakelanier.org. Memberships begin at $50. 

Posted online 9/29/17
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