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Shore Sweep cleans up Lake Lanier, for people and wildlife
Volunteers gather tons of trash from shoreline, waters
A sample of the debris gathered by volunteers Saturday during the annual Shore Sweep at Lake Lanier. The hundreds of volunteers who took part collected tons of trash, including tires, plastic form and more, from the shoreline and waters at various locations around the lake. - photo by ELISE PERKINS

The Gainesville Marina was one of six locations in Hall County participating in the annual Shore Sweep event hosted by the Lake Lanier Association, as volunteers came together to help remove the trash and debris from the lake and the shorelines.

“This is the best year in a long time,” said Beth Deneergaard, the Gainesville captain of the program. “I was here at quarter to 8 a.m. and it was already crazy.”

The event was held at 10 different locations in four counties: one in Dawson, two in Forsyth, one in Gwinnett and six in Hall. Each location included boat access and a large dumpster for all the trash collected.

“I can’t believe we filled it up this year,” said Don Summerlin, a volunteer who helped run the Gainesville Marina location. “Huge improvement from last year; I think it was maybe a fourth full.”

At each location, table was set up to direct volunteers and those looking to make drop-offs. As volunteer filled bags, they could bring them to be thrown away and receive one of the custom T-shirts featuring the winning design from a contest held every year.

“There are still a lot of the same people I see every year,” Deneergaard said. “Maybe they’ve just gotten more organized, or maybe it’s because the waters dropped a little bit. Last year, the water (level) was all the way up, and I think when the water drops, the garbage comes out.”

In the week leading up to the big day, there were eight locations where people were encouraged to drop off trash and larger debris in the posted areas. Most of the advance drop-off locations were boat accessible only, allowing many of the boaters who enjoy Lake Lanier to help without having to step foot on dry land.

Bill Morrison and Mike Harvey spent the day on the lake bringing in large pieces of Styrofoam from old docks that drifted around the lake, and didn’t let the looming clouds limit their fun.

“Mike was sitting on a piece of Styrofoam that we were pulling in,” Morrison said. “He looked like he was in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, floating along behind the boat.”

Despite claims that they were only there for the trail mix, Morrison, Harvey and Ricke Hall helped collect most of 30 large pieces of Styrofoam tied to the end of the dock, waiting to be picked up and removed from the water.

“This is my first year,” Hall said. “I’ve lived here in this area for about 30 years now and I’ve heard about it and thought that’s a cool thing to do, and now I’m doing it.”

Although it was it his first time volunteering with Shore Sweep, he enjoyed seeing people coming together to help the lake and said he had met a lot of good people and had conversations with several old friends.

“I came with my friend who has a boat. They’ve been working for the last three or four days so I feel like I caught the tail end of it.” Hall said. “I defiantly will do this again; there are always opportunities to be a blessing to other people.”

Regional events