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Cellphone app helps participants locate areas for Shore Sweep
27th annual event to be held on Sept. 26
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A large piece of plastic foam rests on the shoreline at Laurel Park on Tuesday. Lake Lanier Association is holding a shore sweep for trash on Sept. 26. - photo by Erin O. Smith

27th annual Shore Sweep

When: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 26

What: Trash pick-up hosted by Lake Lanier Association

Participating sites: Lake 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

More information: Email

As the Lake Lanier Association approaches its 27th annual Shore Sweep on Sept. 26, the group has a new tool in its arsenal for ridding the lake’s shores of trash: a cellphone app.

The “TrashOut” app allows users to take a picture of trash big and small and give the exact coordinates of the litter. The association has already counted more than 200 reports of trash at Lake Lanier and will use the information to help dispatch volunteers in the most effective manner.

“Certainly, it’s a big step forward for us in terms of organization of the event,” said Lake Lanier Association Executive Director Joanna Cloud.

The Shore Sweep, which will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 26, averages 1,000 volunteers and 30 tons of trash collected per year.

This year’s 12 participating locations are 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.

Volunteers who turn in at least one full bag of trash get a T-shirt. Advance registration isn’t required but helps LLA plan shoreline coverage. Email to notify LLA of your plans to participate.

Cloud said considering the average amount of trash collected multiplied by 27 years shows the kind of impact Shore Sweep will have made by month’s end.

“If we had not been doing this, imagine how much stuff would be out there on the shores of Lake Lanier,” Cloud said.

Cloud has seen items such as paddle boats, pedal boats, washing machines, TVs, couches, bikes, bathing suits, a rocking horse, toys, baseballs, basketballs and Nerf balls in working on the sweep. This is her fifth year organizing the event.

Kelly Norman will be in her fourth year assisting with the event. The Keep Hall Beautiful executive director has seen everything from household trash and debris to tires.

“It’s just amazing what is found and what people have disposed of in the lake and on the shorelines,” Norman said. “If we kept everything, we could probably furnish an entire household.”

Cloud said the community has grown to recognize the need for trash sweeps. She said her organization continues to build relationships in the community, letting people know how big of an issue littering is. Cloud also said Lake Lanier Association and Keep Hall Beautiful are working more collaboratively now.

Cloud said she knows it is often easier for people on lake islands without access to a trash can to litter than dispose of trash properly, but her group is working against that mentality. Instead, she said she hopes lake visitors and residents will have a “take only pictures, leave only footprints” mindset.

Norman said it’s an honor for her group to be part of Shore Sweep.

“We want to preserve our greatest asset and our greatest resource, Lake Lanier,” Norman said.

Cloud said she enjoys seeing the community come out to support the trash sweep effort. Norman has seen her group embrace the sweep, too.

“We love participating in this event, and it’s a wonderful time,” Norman said. “But we would also love to see no need for the event.”