Does sauntering along the shores of Lake Lanier sound nice?
How about hiking for miles in sneakers caked with red mud, as September winds cut across cold waters, while you pick up jagged spikes of beer-bottle glass and collect old cigarette butts?
Still sound like a nice lakeside stroll?
Well, it was anything but ideal during Saturday morning’s 27th annual Shore Sweep. But that didn’t stop more than 1,000 volunteers from pitching in to help keep Lake Lanier a picture-perfect recreational destination.
Sponsored by the Lake Lanier Association, the event included 12 participating locations: Lanier Islands, Clarks Bridge, Longwood, Don Carter, Gwinnett and War Hill parks; Aqualand, Bald Ridge, Gainesville and Port Royale marinas; and Balus Creek and Big Creek boat ramps.
Jeremy Ewers, a Lake Lanier Association captain in charge of the Big Creek portion, said the group used a cellphone app called “TrashOut” that allows users to take a picture of trash big and small and give the exact coordinates of the litter.
Prior to Saturday’s event, the association had counted more than 200 reports of trash at Lake Lanier and used the information to help dispatch volunteers in an effective manner.
“There’s everything from docks and sunken boats and jet skis to big pieces of foam,” said Ewers, as he braced against strong winds Saturday at Big Creek. “You wouldn’t know it by looking at them, but those pieces of styrofoam can weigh as much as 300 pounds. They’re waterlogged.”
Matthew Guilford and Jan Pappanduros worked as a team at Big Creek, walking the shore with big trash bags.
“We find all kinds of stuff,” Pappanduros said. “Beer bottles, cigarette butts, a flip-flop (never a pair), fishing gear.”
Guilford chimed in: “My friend who was doing this once found a waterproof tackle box full of new fishing gear, but mostly it’s just trash that we find.”
Ewers said unfortunately folks don’t mind throwing their trash in the lake.
“But, working together we’re hoping to make a difference,” Ewers said.