Archived Story

Trashing of Lake Martin shoreline continues

Published 8:38pm Wednesday, July 30, 2014

By John Thompson
Outlook Guest Columnist

Lake Martin offers wonderful opportunities for everyone who has a desire to get on a large clean, clear body of water and enjoy whatever form of recreation they have in mind. There are designated camping sites, great fishing locations, many sandy beaches, and ample open water to accommodate many, many boats. There are quiet, calm sloughs that attract skiers and “wakeboarders”. There are also places of interest that attract large groups of boaters that enjoy just “hanging out.”
But with the great opportunities offered by Lake Martin comes the huge responsibility of keeping it clean. There is probably very little hope that we can completely eliminate litter on the lake. We could place trash receptacles at the public launches and see some improvement. We can continue to educate the young people, and hopefully see some positive results. Annual cleanups also offer some relief, but for the most part some litter will probably always be around and it is for us, the lake users, to do what we can to eliminate it.
Random, incidental littering is one offence that can be understood, it’s certainly not acceptable, but at least we understand the source and can continue to look for ways to keep it under control.
When large quantities of beer cans and bottles are intentionally and routinely dumped on the shores of Lake Martin, it becomes something different than random littering, and that is exactly what we have in one small area that is less than two miles by water across the lake from one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world.
This area is at the back end of a slough that is an attraction to skiers looking for calm waters, but being isolated it is also attracting some individuals that need to be exposed and prosecuted for using the shores of Lake Martin as a public dump site.
Over the last 12-18 months on at least five occasions, my friend Bill Thompson and I have picked up a total of more than 2,500 beer cans and bottles in an area less than half the size of most of the homes on Lake Martin.
It is almost as if these abusers are engaged in a kind of “cat and mouse” game with us. There is not much doubt that it is the same group of individuals continuing to engage in this abusive practice. The beer brands are the same, the dumping location is the same, and recently they placed the empty boxes on top of stumps on the shoreline as if to signal that another cleanup was needed.
Many of the bottles are broken, which indicates that they might possibly be tossing them from a boat. There are no accessible roads to the site, so boaters are the culprits. The trash is thrown along the shoreline for about 30 feet, but mostly it is dumped in an area about 12 feet square. There is a shallow sand bar extending about 75 feet into the lake from the dump site, and many more empties are on the bottom and can be seen in the clear water.
Careless littering is one thing, but the deliberate trashing of the beautiful shoreline of Lake Martin is absolutely unacceptable and should be rejected by everyone who enjoys the wonderful opportunities offered by the state’s only “Treasured Alabama Lake”.
Lake Martin Resource Association (LMRA) offers a cash reward to anyone who is willing to provide information that might lead to the exposure of the guilty parties. And it is hoped that when caught, the culprits will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Information can be forwarded to LMRA@lmra.info or contact Mack Daugherty at mdaugherty@russelllands.com
Lake Martin means so much to so many and we cannot allow a few to maliciously mar its pristine beauty. Please help to keep the shorelines clear of unsightly trash.
John Thompson serves as president of Lake Martin Resource Association