renew our rivers

John Thompson is grinning a bit knowing due to community effort over the last year, more than likely 22 tons of trash will not be picked up again this year for Renew Our Rivers. It’ll be much less, he hopes.

“We have collected 122 tons of trash and more than 500 tires from Lake Martin during previous years,” Thompson said. “Last year we collected 22 tons. I don’t think we will come close to that this year. I think we will collect 12 to 13 tons.”

Thompson and Lake Martin Resource Association (LMRA) have been partnering with Alabama Power Company for almost two decades to rid the state’s waterways of the state of litter and trash. 

“This is the 15th year of Renew Our Rivers,” Thompson said. “It has grown each year. This year will be the 10th for the T-shirts and about the sixth year we have partnered with Wind Creek State Park.”

Thompson believes the growth of the program and LMRA’s efforts to help educate mainly the youth of the area have helped in picking up the trash and keeping litter from being left behind.

Thompson said LMRA’s education efforts in schools and sponsored stretches to clean up on a regular basis has proved successful.

“Our Treasured Mile is working in popular areas,” Thompson said. “In areas like Big Beach and the Land Between the Lakes we are not seeing near as much trash.”

Efforts have been underway already with volunteers bagging trash along the shores of Lake Martin.

“Friday is the day we get out with barges from Tow Boat USA and Lake Martin Dock (Company) and pick up what trash has already been bagged,” Thompson said. “We have about 650 bags already bagged just waiting to be picked up. We will haul it back to Wind Creek.”

Thompson said those who wish to volunteer can join staff from the Alexander City Chamber of Commerce, Alabama Power Company employees and LMRA board members at Wind Creek State Park where those helping will be ferried out to help load bagged trash.

Thompson said there are other options to volunteer too.

“We want people to pick up trash along the roadsides as well,” Thompson said. “Volunteers can come by one of our sites and pick up bags and trash pickers.”

Thompson said those sites are Siggers Crossroad, Union boat ramp and Real Island and Kowaliga marinas. He said those who return to the dumpster sites with bags of litter will receive a special treat.

“When they come back with bagged trash, they will get a T-shirt,” Thompson said.

Volunteers are needed at all locations. At Wind Creek, Thompson said adult volunteers are not need to pick up trash in the park.

“We have Boy Scouts, Camp Fire girls and students from Stephens Elementary School coming,” Thompson said. “The park should be good. Volunteers are welcome to come to Wind Creek after picking up trash before lunch. We will have a hot dog lunch from Dirt Road Gourmet. While we are good on volunteers in the park, we want to encourage everyone to pick up trash where they are at along roadsides.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.