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Shore cleanup gains popularity
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Last month, the Lake Lanier Association initiated a "Shore Super Sweep" to deal with all the trash being uncovered by the lake’s shrinking water level.

Dumpsters were set up at five sites around Lanier so people could pick up litter anytime and drop it off for collection. The association also encouraged volunteers to organize their own small cleanups.

Now, people are beginning to step forward and do just that.

"This has kind of taken on a life of its own, which is great," said Vicki Barnhorst, executive director of the association. "The lake needs all the help it can get. And some people just like to be part of a group, rather than picking up trash by themselves."

Today, lake residents Vic and Judy Dube are coordinating a cleanup of Flat Creek cove, an area that gets more than its share of pollution.

"We’ll be cleaning up right where Flat Creek dumps into Lake Lanier," said Vic Dube. "Every time it rains, all kinds of stuff from the city of Gainesville gets washed into Flat Creek."

Because of limited parking in Dube’s neighborhood, volunteers are meeting at 10 a.m. at the Balus Creek boat ramp and carpooling to the cleanup site.

Dube said some people will clean along the shoreline, while others will ride a pontoon to the opposite side of the cove to clean there. They’ll also pick up the 50 or 60 bags of trash that Dube and several friends have already collected, and transport all of it to the designated Dumpster at Van Pugh Park South.

"I expect we may get another 50 or 60 bags (Saturday)," he said.

Volunteers will be treated to a grilled hot-dog lunch, he added.

Barnhorst said another group of volunteers is making plans to meet Jan. 19 at Lake Lanier Islands for a cleanup of Cocktail Cove, a popular hangout for boaters. And a local teen is organizing his own cleanup as part of an Eagle Scout project.

"I’m hoping that now that the holidays are over, more people will have time to do cleanups," Barnhorst said.

There’s one type of trash, however, that the association recommends should not be picked up: old tires.

Fishing guide Shane Watson explains that one man’s trash is another creature’s treasure.

"I know it’s unsightly, but those tires are not pollution," he said. "They were put into the lake years ago, as a benefit for the fishery. The (Georgia Department of Natural Resources) encouraged the practice."

Watson said it may no longer be considered politically correct to put tires in the lake, but those old ones are still providing valuable habitat for smaller species of fish.

"Most of the lake’s coves are slick-bottom, with no structures where fish can hide from predators," he said.

Watson said those discarded tires have been serving that purpose for decades, sight unseen. Now that they’re sticking up out of the water, they may seem like useless junk. But when the lake level rises, they’ll be needed again.

Also, tires can’t be thrown in the Dumpsters anyway, because state law now requires tires to be recycled instead of taken to landfills.

Barnhorst said anyone who wants to organize a cleanup can contact the lake association to get free trash bags and Shore Super Sweep buttons. The group has set up a special number, 678-430-8950, just for Shore Sweep calls.

For those who prefer to collect trash on their own, bags of garbage picked up at the lake can be deposited in Dumpsters at the following sites: Gainesville Marina, Holiday Marina, Port Royale Marina, Little Ridge Park and Van Pugh Park South.