Archived Story

Nature has no janitor

Published 4:11pm Thursday, January 24, 2013

For those of you fortunate enough to be around the Lake Martin area this past Sunday, you know that it was a perfect day.

The weather was mild – in the high 50s or low 60s – and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Even though we live in the Deep South, I’d argue we don’t see too many beautiful days like that in the normally chilly month of January.

A friend and I decided to take advantage of the clear, bright day and drove out to Wind Creek State Park. The $6 entrance fee was a steal, considering the beautiful views we got to experience.

We ended up walking along the beaches, admiring the lake and letting the sun warm us when the occasional chilly breeze passed through.

I was disturbed and disappointed, however, to see how much trash was half-buried in the sand and clay, obviously left over from a busy summer. We found a full, unopened Mountain Dew can, several empty beer cans, muddy t-shirts, broken bottles, goggles, pool toys, a wheel and countless food wrappers.

Wind Creek State Park is truly a local treasure – not only does it provide affordable access to the lake and outdoor activities, but it is also the largest state-operated campground in the United States.

That’s something for all of us to be proud of.

With its tremendous size, I understand that it draws visitors from across the country – not just the Lake Martin region.

But we’re the ones left picking up the pieces if others choose not to respect the natural beauty of our area.

Historically, the state park has either taken it upon itself to pick up trash and debris, or other groups have spent a weekend volunteering to clean up the area.

I’d like to call all civic groups considering a service project in Alexander City, Dadeville or the surrounding communities to think about adding a Wind Creek cleanup date to your agendas.

As they say, many hands make light work, and I have no doubt we can all make light work of the trash littering the beaches.

With the lake at winter pool levels, our time to act is now before the lake rises again and buries debris – specifically the broken glass bottles – that could injure someone enjoying an otherwise pleasant day in our park.

With such expansive grounds and a limited staff, I’m sure it’s far beyond the scope of what park officials are capable of doing themselves – there’s just too much trash spread across too large an area. But with our efforts we can continue to make Wind Creek a place to cherish for years to come.

I’d love to take another walk along those beaches again soon and see nothing but sand, shells and beautiful water.

Spears is general manager and managing editor for The Outlook.