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Volunteers help clean up Lake Laniers shorelines
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Macy Dwyer leans in Saturday to grab a floating bottle in a small creek near Clarks Bridge Park during this year’s Shore Sweep. Dwyer and her Brenau University Zeta Tau Alpha sorority sisters filled several large trash bags with trash near the Lake Lanier Olympic Center. - photo by NAT GURLEY

If you want a clean lake to enjoy, it takes a strong effort by some to make that become a reality.

That effort was put in Saturday when the Lake Lanier Association held its 25th annual Lake Lanier Shore Sweep.

Volunteers from around the Lanier area helped clean up the lake’s shoreline in four different counties. Some of the spots in Hall County included Aqualand Marina, Clarks Bridge Park and Gainesville Marina.

Some of the trash included bottles, cans and old deflated tubes. Volunteers also used their boats to help pick up floating and heavier debris, such as plastic foam and tires, off the shore and water.

“Every year we get a little bit better,” said Joanna Cloud, the association’s executive director. “We had no major problems. We had a few hiccups getting dumpsters into their place.”

She said at one location, a volunteer jumped into the dumpster to make room for more trash to be dumped into it. She also emphasized how pre-planning helped captains of the different locations guide volunteers to where debris was located. She also said they retrieved 58 pieces of plastic foam from the shoreline and the water.

“We can always improve,” Cloud said, “but 58 pieces (of foam), I’m very happy. ... The appreciation from others isn’t why we do it. It’s our lake, too. We take a sense of pride to keep it clean.”

Cloud said the group wanted to put more emphasis on Clarks Bridge Park this year. Co-captain of the site, Howard Bradley, said it was the most people he had seen volunteer at that location.

“It shows that people do care,” Bradley said. “We have more interests in groups participating this year. ... It’s a lot of fun. We want people to really take pride in the lake. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of trash.

“We wish we didn’t have to have Shore Sweep, but I think there’s going to be a need for this for many years to come because some trash is accidental and not always intentional. The lake is a true treasure, not just for Hall County but the region.”

Bradley said he became involved in Shore Sweep in part because he’s a Lake Lanier property owner. He’s been involved for 10 years at the Clarks Bridge location.

One group helping at the same location was Brenau University sorority Zeta Tau Alpha. Sophomore Dianne Honan, philanthropy chairwoman of the sorority, said volunteering Saturday is one of two projects the sorority takes on a month.

She said they chose Clarks Bridge Park because one of their members, Macy Dwyer, is a kayaker with the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club there.

“As soon as I found out it was this area (Clarks Bridge Park), I was so excited,” Dwyer said. “The lake gets bad. We clean the boathouse, but the lake gets dirty after storms. It was nice to have a group who was willing and able to clean it up.”

Keep Hall Beautiful also helped the association clean up.

“It’s a fantastic outreach project for us,” Director Kelly Norman said. “We love collaborating with other organizations because everyone has different resources, and when we come together, we’re able to get so much done.

“It gives us a sense of participation and community, and really feeling like we’ve done something here. Every year, it seems to grow. We look forward to growing it every year. We want it to become a bigger event.”

At Gainesville Marina, volunteers pulled chunks of polystyrene and stacks of tires and chairs out of the water and shore line, put them into boats, and took them to the dumpster and docks at the marina.

“We’ve lived here three years and we thought it was part of our responsibility to help,” said first-time volunteer Jay Panozzo.

Kate Carlson said there didn’t seem to be as much trash as in years past.

“It is surprising how little trash is out there,” she said. “The lake’s so high. There our islands where people would eat, drink and camp, that people would throw cans, bottles and everything into the woods. We used to fill up two of the large black garbage bags. This year, I’ll be surprised if we fill up half a bag.”

Brad Wiegand, owner of Boat Dock Works, brought three employees to help in the volunteer effort.

“Everybody benefits from Lake Lanier, but not everybody gives back,” Wiegand said, “so it’s good to see (people) out here, cleaning up the shoreline.”

For more information on Shore Sweep and Lake Lanier Association, visit

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