Tens of thousands of pounds of trash — possibly more than 100,000 pounds — will be removed from Lake Lanier next month during the Lake Lanier Association’s annual Shore Sweep.
And on Tuesday, the Lake Lanier Olympic Park will get a preview of the September sweep with a hefty, all-day cleanup of ruined dock equipment that has piled up near the park’s tower and boathouse.
Some of the debris dates back to the 1996 Olympics, said park Manager Robyn Lynch.
“Mostly it’s old docks and starter docks — those type of things,” Lynch said.
When: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 23
Where: Aqualand Marina, Balus Creek Access, Big Creek Access, Don Carter State Park, Gainesville Marina, Lake Lanier Olympic Park, Lanier Islands and Longwood Park in Hall County; Bald Ridge Marina and Port Royale Marina in Forsyth County; War Hill Park in Dawson County; Gwinnett Park in Gwinnett CountyMore info: www.lakelanier.org or 770-503-7757
Removing the equipment will take most of Tuesday. Boat Dock Works has been hired for the task, which isn’t expected to disturb pedestrians, motorists or rowers, Lynch said.
The work is being funded through the Lake Lanier Association’s Shore Sweep account, which itself is funded by counties that touch the lake, according to association Executive Director Joanna Cloud.
She said the Olympic Park project is the kickoff project of the organization’s 29th Shore Sweep.
The sweep and its 1,200 volunteers have historically removed between 30 and 50 tons of garbage from Lake Lanier beginning in late September, Cloud said, but the group is starting early on the Olympic Park because the debris in the area has been in the association’s sights for a couple of years.
“Trash sort of begets trash,” she said. “So if you find an area that has a bunch of trash in it, you’d be amazed at how that trash pile just seems to multiply and grow over time.”
How to help
Bring garbage-collecting supplies (gloves, trash bags, rope and stakes for towing heavy materials) and snacks for volunteers to collection sites on Sept. 23.
Some of the docks are wedged into a cove near the park and are inaccessible by both land and water for now, according to Cloud, and the association hopes to return in early 2018 when the higher lake level allows access deeper into the boggy cove.
The work on Tuesday will involve heavy equipment on both land and on Boat Dock Work’s barge.
Heavy equipment is becoming a more common sight during the Shore Sweep. When the event began, much of the trash being collected was simple litter — cans, bottles, bags and other carelessly discarded trash.
These days, each of the 12 garbage collection sites has a front-end loader and an industrial bin. Dock debris and heavy, waterlogged foam constitute most of the tonnage.
Approximately one-third of the debris comes from islands that dot the lake, Cloud said. There are eight sites in Hall County, two in Forsyth, one in Gwinnett and one in Dawson. The Dawson site, War Hill Park, usually has the most debris to collect because of the park’s large amount of shoreline.
“We have bigger, heavier, more cumbersome stuff that logistically is much more challenging,” she said.
As a result, Shore Sweep requires more boats and more heavy lifting from volunteers. The association collects cash donations for the sweep, but it also needs gloves, trash bags and especially rope and sturdy stakes.
“Not twine, but heavy-duty rope,” Cloud said. “We need stakes; it’s amazing how many stakes we go through because we hammer the stakes into the foam and then tie the rope off to it and tow it back (to collection sites).”
The group also needs snacks for volunteers at the 12 collection sites.
If you’re interested in the event but unavailable on Sept. 23, there are eight advance-drop locations on water-accessible locations around the lake.
“You can go ahead and bring bagged trash or large items and leave them at one of these locations,” the Shore Sweep website states. “We have volunteers with boats scheduled to pick up at all these locations on Saturday morning for removal.”
Meanwhile, boaters who are unable to collect debris can use their smartphones to mark its location on the TrashOut app — a service that allows people to set waypoints that other volunteers can use to find trash.
Including spending and in-kind donations from counties and garbage collection companies, Shore Sweep costs about $30,000 each year, Cloud said.