Volunteers help unload garbage from a barge at Wind Creek State Park Friday morning as part of the Renew Our Rivers program.

With cold temps and sharp winds to contend with, volunteers with the Lake Martin Resource Association gathered at Wind Creek State Park early Friday morning for the annual Renew Our Rivers cleanup of Lake Martin. 

The cleanup actually began months ago when volunteers began bagging trash along the lake’s shoreline. 

Volunteer Tonya Holland and her family have spent much of their time over the past two months bagging debris that has collected along Lake Martin’s shorelines. Holland said she and her family make the best of their time cleaning the shorelines of Lake Martin.

“We see who can find the most lighters or fishing lures,” she said. “We just have fun. It’s fun.”

Holland said it’s the lake’s beauty that draws her to it and seeing that firsthand is worth more than anything money could ever buy.

“We get to see things that are unbelievable,” she said. “Down by Camp ASCCA, we saw two eagles there, and there’s a big nest near our land that we watch. We have an Osprey that we watch.” 

Trash can have a direct effect on wildlife in an ecosystem especially plastic.  

If ingested, plastic can prevent food digestion in wildlife and can lead to a very slow and painful death. Furthermore, plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to break down, once an animal dies and decays after ingesting plastic, the plastic is then freed back into the marine environment to carry on killing other wildlife.