Back in January, a Jordan Lake State Park Ranger called Clean Jordan Lake to ask for help. The 17 ft. rise in lake level during the heavy rains of December and January had forced closure of State Park entrances for over a week. Shoreline signs went missing, logs were strewn everywhere and even worse, a huge amount of trash was left far up from the normal shoreline. Even though Camping Area A at New Hope Overlook is about 15 ft above normal lake level, the 17 ft rise brought all the trash flushed from the watershed by the rains into the campground area.
The request for help was luckily before choosing the site for our semi-annual Spring cleanup on March 19th. But the State Park Ranger was hoping for help even earlier, prior to re-opening the campground on March 12th.
Clean Jordan Lake was still able to come to the rescue. A Thursday Senior Triangle Hikers Group, led by Ian Potter and Marga Theelen approached us in January asking how they could help to get the trash off the Red Trail they had recently hiked. Fourteen members showed up on Jan. 28th. They cleared 30 bags of trash and 4 tires from Camping Area A . Lots more was left to do but it was a good start.
In February, the Green Club at Northwood High School in Chatham County, led by Sarah Montgomery, asked about doing a community service project. Fortunately we were able to arrange a cleanup at Camping Area A on March 5, one week before the opening of the campground. Sarah brought 19 students. They removed 25 bags of trash and 4 tires to finish the cleaning of Camping Area A.
But more trash remained along a 2- mile stretch to the south roughly following the Red Trail and ending just below Camping B. This was tackled on March 19th. Despite the threat of showers, 165 volunteers showed up for our Annual Spring Cleanup.
The US Army Corps of Engineers brought its pontoon boat to haul trash about 2 miles to a dumpster provided by Chatham County Solid Waste & Recycling. They were assisted by several other boaters and kayakers. In just 2 hours, the shoreline was free of 270 bags of trash and 31 tires!
And volunteers were eager to help in our new project to separate floatable plastic bottles with caps. We plan to repurpose these with the help of high school students as pontoons for mini trash barges that can be towed behind kayaks. The barges also will help raise public awareness about the immensity of our litter issues.
A few volunteers were designated as plastic bottle collectors. They reversed their DOT bags so the blue side was facing out . In just two hours, about 70 bags of bottles were collected, enough we think to construct two sets of pontoons for mini trash barges.
We’re gratified to see so many dedicated repeat volunteers and equally happy to welcome many new folks, especially university and high school students who shape the future of our society’s values.
The combined efforts of 200 volunteers for all three cleanups resulted in removal of 305 bags of trash and 36 tires. There are still a few short lengths of shoreline we did not reach. A small group of volunteers could do these to complete restoration of beauty to the Red Trail and Camping Areas A and B at each end.