National Volunteer Month

April 'Sweep the Hooch' to include Chattahoochee Bend

by Staff Reports

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Volunteers clear trash from a debris island at a prior river cleanup at Chattahoochee Bend State Park. (Photo courtesy Greg Hyde)

April is National Volunteer Month, and the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend are offering plenty of opportunities to help you celebrate it.

The volunteer Friends organization is responsible for building all the trails at the state park in western Coweta County, and it undertakes many other projects.

Volunteer days, typically held once or twice a month, are scheduled all four Saturdays in April. They include the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s annual “Sweep the Hooch” river cleanup, which for the first time includes Chattahoochee Bend State Park, as well as 20 other sites, on April 13.

Saturday, April 6 will kick off National Volunteer Month with a day of tasks including headwall construction for the bridge at the new start to the Riverside Trail, kiosk construction at the trailhead, improving the new trail that begins at the playground, and constructing the trail to the new bridge. There will be lunch and T-shirts for participants. The event will start at 10 a.m., and volunteers are asked to meet at the visitor center at 9:45.

The April 20 volunteer day will continue the efforts of bridge, kiosk and trail construction. There will be lunch and T-shirts, with volunteers gathering at the visitor center at 9:45 and starting at 10.

Volunteers are asked to bring their own tools if they have them; there will be some tools available.

The last volunteer day of the month on April 27 will be a little bit different. The park is hosting the Geo-Glow Geocamper Weekend, and Friends volunteers will be assisting with the event, including selling concessions.

This is the third year for the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s cleanup, which includes removing trash from the river and from the banks. It’s also the third river cleanup at Chatt-Bend; the Friends hosted cleanups last April and August.

For the upcoming Sweep the Hooch, participants are asked to register on the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s website, www.chattahoochee.org . Walkers also need to register. If you need to borrow a boat, indicate that need in the comments section on the registration page.

Greg Hyde, River Committee chairman for the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend, said the on-river cleanup is limited to 30 people. As of Friday, there were 20 slots open, but Hyde said he expects it to fill up quickly.

The park has some canoes available for those who don’t have their own boats.

Signing up includes a membership to the RiverKeeper organization, said Hyde. The organization sends newsletters and hosts multiple events throughout the year. The registration process also includes liability waivers.

Hyde’s glad to be collaborating with the well-known organization. “I think it gets people more involved and more educated about the water in Georgia,” Hyde said.

“They’re excited about us being involved, too.”

The organization, formerly the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, recently changed its name, Hyde said. Though the Upper Chattahoochee extends to West Point Lake, “people were confused about where that was,” Hyde said. They’re also extending their scope, he said.

There’s plenty of trash to clean up in the river. Earlier events cleaned hundreds of pounds of all manner of trash and debris out of the river, but new garbage is always making its way downriver.

“A lot of this trash comes from runoff from people’s property,” Hyde said. “It goes through such an urban area.” “The river is like your house. You can clean it up. It gets dirty again.”

The Friends will be keeping up with exactly what is pulled out, and will report to Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

The floating sweepers will put in at the northern platform camp area, and float down to the boat ramp. There will be shuttle service for people and boats to the upper put-in. It takes about an hour to float that stretch of river, Hyde said, so “we will have plenty of time to take our time and clean up that stretch.”

Volunteers should meet at the boat ramp, and are asked to arrive by 8:30 to ensure proper paperwork is signed.

Chattahoochee Bend State Park is located off Flat Road Road in northwestern Coweta. It can be reached from either Hwy. 34 West/Franklin Highway by turning at Thomas Powers Road and following the signs, or from Hwy. 16 West/Carrollton Highway by taking Wagers Mill Road and following the signs.

Admission to the park is $5 per passenger vehicle. Membership in the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend includes a one-year parking pass good at all state parks.

For more information visit www.bendfriend.com or www.gastateparks.org/chattahoocheebend or call 770-254-7271.


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