Shore Sweep: Dozens of volunteers clean up tons of trash along Lake Lanier

HALL COUNTY, Ga. — Dozens of volunteer spent their Saturday working to remove tons of trash at Lake Lanier as part of an annual clean-up at the popular Georgia lake.

But this year organizers had a new challenge to keep everyone safe with the ongoing pandemic.

“We had to buy masks. We had to buy hand sanitizer. We had to buy gloves. We had to buy signage,” said John Barker with the Lake Lanier Association.

“We don’t think the risk is too great as long as we are smart, and as long as we keep people educated as to the right things they need to do to be COVID compliant.”

The Lake Lanier Association supervises and organizes the annual Shore Sweep, which takes place at 12 different locations across the lake.

In 2019, volunteers removed an all-time high of trash. Barker told Channel 2 since the coronavirus pandemic began back in March that traffic on the lake skyrocketed. It could mean a new trash record.

“Our anticipation is we could have a bigger year,” he said.

More than 700 volunteers signed up to tackle the job. That is 200 more volunteers than a year ago. But this year’s crew will have to socially distance.

“I just spent $800 on signs to let people know that this is a volunteer event. They’re here at their own risk-and COVID implications could in fact be in play. And it’s something they need to be aware of," Barker said.

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Channel 2′s Lauren Pozen watched as volunteers checked in, received a shirt, trash bags and some snacks. Signs were placed to remind volunteers to wear their masks and socially distance.

“It feels really good to help clean up the environment because I know we are not as careful as we should be about putting trash out and recycling,” volunteer Kaei Lauder said.

The effort is to pick up a year’s worth of trash of all kinds and boat debris. Volunteers pick up anywhere from 30 to 50 tons of it every event.

“We have people not only walking the shores but also in boats finding whatever they find in the water,” volunteer Denise Webb said.

Webb works with Keep Forsyth County Beautiful and she is also a science teacher. Some of her students even came out to help.

What are some of the more unusual trash items that volunteers found? It’s a mixed bag from boat tires to wood and even partial boat rocks.