Volunteers with Keep Bartow Beautiful, Keep Rome Floyd Beautiful and the Coosa River Basin Initiative, have set aside the third Saturday in October as a day to scour the shores of the Etowah. Taking a page from that of The Great Lake Allatoona Cleanup, which has been amassing thousands of volunteers each September for 26 years, organizers hope the Etowah River cleanup will grow in size while spreading awareness on the issues of littering and illegal dumping.
“What [Joe Cook of CRBI] has started is that everyone will come together on one day in October, the third Saturday, to do the same thing for the river that we do for the lake,” said Sherri Henshaw of KBB. “I think it’s out of sight and out of mind to a lot of people and they don’t realize that’s where our water comes from.
“That is our drinking water source, that is Rome’s drinking water source and people don’t stop to think about that. ... Tires and plastics are full of chemical compounds that leach terribly into the ground and water. That stuff just breaks down so slowly over time and it releases stuff the entire time it’s there. So you’ve got people dumping trash and they have no idea what they’re doing to our environment.”
In Bartow, volunteers tackled a site on the river plagued with illegal dumping activity. More than a ton of household garbage, old tires and construction materials were collected and removed from the site at the corner of U.S. 411 and Macedonia Road. Individual volunteers with KBB were joined by students from Berry College and Georgia Highlands.
Other teams cleaned areas along the river in Rome and Floyd County, the Hardin Bridge river access site near Euharlee and one team cleaned from vessels on the river.
Joining those at the U.S. 411 site, was Chris Hughes, owner of Orion Fishing Charters. Based out of Cartersville, Orion Fishing Charters takes clients by boat on Lake Allatoona for crappie and striped bass, the Oostanalah River for catfish and by canoe on the Etowah for striper during their migratory run through Bartow County.
“I spend most of my days on the water guiding clients and we like to see it in pristine condition,” Hughes said. “We always try to clean up the areas that we use. We want people to see the river for its true beauty, not for what people are doing to the banks of it.
“What’s happening is, sportsmen are getting a bad name because people just throw their trash down. So we need to do something, we can’t let a few litterers ruin it for the true sportsmen.”
For more information about events and volunteer opportunities with KBB, call 770-387-5167.