River cleanup nets 471 pounds of trash

by Sarah Fay Campbell

Volunteers pulled 471 pounds of trash from the section of the Chattahoochee River that runs in front of Chattahoochee State Park last week during the annual Rivers Alive cleanup event.

There were 37 volunteers, with 25 paddlers on the river collecting trash and others cleaning along the banks.

Participants included a couple from Gwinnett County and a family from McDonough, members of the Northgate High School Environmental Club, members of the Newnan Paddlers Meet-Up group, and many of the regulars from the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend State Park, according to Greg Hyde, Friends vice president and chairman of the River Committee.

“The water level was low enough to let us work the shoreline easily,” Hyde said. The weather was hot, but it was good paddling weather, he said.

The park’s section of the river is in good shape, he said. Several years of cleanup projects have removed the trash and large items that had built up over the years. “We are now doing regular light maintenance from storm runoff pollution,” Hyde said. That’s the trash thrown on the ground and roadsides that gets washed into creeks and streams that then flow into the river.

“Much of the trash from road shoulder to back yards are floated by rain events through storm drains and end up in the river,” he said. “If we could solve the land litter problem, it would go a long way toward cleaning up our rivers.”

The majority of the trash collected in the Aug. 23 event was plastic water bottles and sports balls. Some of the more unusual items included a Coleman lantern, a plastic skull, and a fire extinguisher, said Friends Treasurer and Membership Committee Chair Jan Pierce. There was also one tire. Great Oaks Environmental Services donated a Dumpster for the cleanup.

The event was dedicated to Friends volunteer Tony Burroughs, who passed away from cancer on Aug. 9. Burroughs participated in every river cleanup and was caretaker of section 5 of the Riverside-Bend Trail.

Burroughs' kayak was released down the river in missing man formation, said Pierce, and was towed by Hyde.

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