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Shore Sweep set to clean up Lake Lanier on Saturday
Vicki Barnhorst talks about this weekend’s Shore Sweep at the Gainesville Marina ramp, one of several drop-off points for the event. - photo by Tom Reed

2009 Shore Sweep

Here are details about the annual Lake Lanier cleanup:

When: 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Clarks Bridge Park, Lake Lanier Islands and Aqualand, Gainesville, Holiday, Starboard Cove and Sunrise Cove marinas in Hall County
More information: 770-503-7757 or

This year, Shore Sweep volunteers won’t have to stray as far off Lake Lanier’s shoreline to pick up trash and other debris.

A rainy winter helped refill the lake, which had been drained over the past couple of years by extreme drought. Lanier now sits at 1,064 feet above sea level, compared to 1,054 feet last September.

"There’s a lot of debris out there, especially from when the water was way down," said Steve Milka, general manager of Gainesville’s Marine Specialties, which is loaning three barges to help with the annual cleanup.

The Lake Lanier Association is planning, rain or shine, its 21st annual Shore Sweep for Saturday.

Workers can spruce up at Clarks Bridge Park, Lake Lanier Islands and Aqualand, Gainesville, Holiday, Starboard Cove and Sunrise Cove marinas in Hall County.

Large items can be taken by boat to Aqualand Marina, Gainesville Marina, Clarks Bridge Park’s boat ramp and to the large metal bin at the first cove on the east side of Lanier Bridge.

At the marinas, volunteers are asked to leave Styrofoam secured in the water at the boat ramp to be picked up later.

In return for a full bag of trash, the volunteers will receive a commemorative T-shirt and an invitation to attend a volunteer appreciation party, set for 1-3 p.m. at Van Pugh Park North in Flowery Branch.

The party will feature free food and drinks, entertainment and a chance to win prizes.

Shore Sweep dates to the 1960s, "when a group of lake residents got together and started cleaning up the shoreline," said Vicki Barnhorst, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers later took over the event. The Lake Lanier Association, a nonprofit advocacy group, took it over in 1988.

"This is our big event of the year," Barnhorst said. "Our organization’s mission covers water quality and quantity, and it is important to remove all of this for the quality of Lake Lanier’s water."

Also, "some of the large objects floating in the water could be a safety hazard for boaters," she added.

Milka said his business sees an obvious need for the event.

"We work on the water every day," he said. "... We’d like to keep that lake as clean as possible."

Barnhorst recommended that volunteers wear older, yet still sturdy, shoes and clothes "they don’t mind getting muddy, because it has been raining all week."

Also, "Small children shouldn’t get too close to the water’s edge, and people should always be very careful about what they’re picking up and moving," she said.