Cleanup of Chattahoochee next weekend
by Sarah Fay Campbell
It's time again to clean up the Chattahoochee. Next weekend will be the annual Rivers Alive waterway cleanup, and the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend will be participating.
Volunteers will be cleaning the river by boat and the river banks on foot at Chattahoochee Bend State Park. The park is located on nearly 3,000 acres along the Chattahoochee River in western Coweta.
Anyone interested in participating is asked to pre-register, preferably on the friends group's Meetup.com site at http://www.meetup.com/Friends-of-Chattahoochee-Bend-State-Park/. Or you can RSVP at www.bendfriend.com.
The deadline is Wednesday, said Greg Hyde, vice president and river committee chairman for the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend.
As of Thursday, there were 23 people signed up to scour the river by boat, said Hyde. There are still five, two-man canoes, which belong to the park, available for volunteers, he said. Or volunteers can bring their own canoe or kayak.
So far, there are only a few people signed up to clean along the river bank, said Hyde.
There's been a good bit of growth around the banks, and some areas may not be accessible, said Steve St. Laurent, chapter president and head of the trails committee.
The friends chapter will get $2 for each volunteer hour, through a grant from the Friends of Georgia State Parks. Volunteers get free admission to the park for the day.
The friends are participating in two river cleanups each year — Rivers Alive in the fall and the "Sweep the Hooch" cleanup hosted by the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in the spring.
The regular cleanups are putting a dent in the large amount of refuse on the river, but "there's still plenty to take out," said Hyde.
"It's not as bad as it has been at other times," he said. "I haven't seen any refrigerators or ovens or things like that recently."
The water has been high lately. Hyde hopes it will go down a bit, because volunteers are able to reach more trash when the water is lower.
Boaters will launch from the top end of the park at the "bend" and float down to the boat ramp. Some will head as far up river as possible in order to gather as much trash as possible. The Friends are also getting ready for a big volunteer day on Sept. 28. It will be Our State Parks Day in Georgia, a part of National Public Lands Day.
In celebration of the day, admission will be free at all Georgia State Parks.
At Chattahoochee Bend, volunteers will begin building the first new trails in a year-and-a half.
In addition to the regularly scheduled volunteer Saturdays, there are also individual volunteer opportunities. For more information visit www.bendfriend.com or www.GaStateParks.org/ChattahoocheeBend.
Or call the park office at 770-254-7271.