Volunteers piling up litter found in a Mill Creek tributary
photo by True Capture Studios
According to the Keep America Beautiful 2020 National Litter Study, if everyone in America picked up 152 pieces of litter at once there would be no more litter on the ground until someone littered again.
"One hundred fifty-two pieces of litter is all that stands between us and a clean country," officials said.
The 246 volunteers who joined the 28th annual Conasauga River Watershed Cleanup definitely picked up their 152 pieces of litter and even more, including picking up a discarded stereo system, couches and stuffed animals.
During the cleanup, hosted in October on the United Way of Northwest Georgia’s Make a Difference Day, volunteers went to various sites across three counties to help clean up the watershed which transports water from the land into tributary streams and the Conasauga River.
"By removing litter from this area, it can be cleared away before it is too broken down by weathering to collect or before it is washed down the river and into the ocean by the flow of water," officials said.
Juno, from True Capture Studios, attended various sites during the cleanup to document the event with her photography and videography. When asked about her experience she said, “The river cleanup created the opportunity for me to connect with a wide variety of community members from very different walks of life who somehow all shared the same objective for the day. These conversations explored their personal connections with the natural world around us as well as our visions of a hopeful future and changes we would like to see to get there.”
Together, volunteers cleaned up 15,996 pounds of trash and 28 tires.
"Taking care of the Conasauga River, which winds through Polk County in Tennessee and along the border of Whitfield and Murray counties, and its tributaries helps create a more beautiful community and supports a healthy environment for the wildlife dependent on the river," officials said.
Sites included in this year’s event were the Conasauga River at Highway 2 bridge, the Carlton Petty Road bridge and the Lower Kings/Norton bridge.
Other cleanup sites included Holly Creek in Murray County, the snorkel hole in the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and Coahulla Creek at Prater’s Mill.
City of Dalton sites included Crown Creek, Lakeshore Park, Al Rollins Park, Park Creek Elementary School and a Mill Creek tributary.
U.S. Forest Service employees from the Conasauga Ranger District cleaned up sites on Sumac and Rock Creeks on the Chattahoochee National Forest and Mohawk Industries employees cleaned up a small stream at the Dalton Recreation Center.
Ellen Thompson, archives chair for Whitfield-Murray Historical Society said about their cleanup site at Crown Creek, “The Whitfield-Murray Historical Society loves participating in the Conasauga cleanup because historic Crown Creek flows on our properties at Hamilton House & Crown Gardens & Archives. We want the creek to stay clean and free of litter, providing water for animals and plants.”
The event sponsors provided the funds needed to purchase cleanup supplies, commemorative bookmarks, hats and t-shirts. They also helped the group purchase ten copies of Casper Cox’s Snorkeling Hidden Rivers of Southern Appalachia to raffle out to volunteers. Event sponsors and organizers include: Shaw Industries, Allchem, Engineered Floors, Dalton Utilities, the Conasauga River Alliance, the Dalton Rotary Club, The Nature Conservancy, Rivers Alive, United Way of Northwest Georgia, Prater’s Mill Foundation, Dalton State College, Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority, Whitfield County Public Works, Limestone Valley RC&D, US Forest Service, Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful, Murray County and Whitfield County Extension and Keep Chatsworth-Murray Beautiful.
The amount of time donated by volunteers during this year’s event is valued at $22,103.
The Conasauga River Watershed Cleanup has long been a participant of the State of Georgia’s Rivers Alive, one of the South’s largest volunteer efforts to beautify water resources. So far in 2022, 4,335 volunteers have participated in 59 clean-up events throughout the state and have removed 174,873 pounds of garbage from 433 miles of Georgia waterways. For more information about efforts in other areas or the statewide campaign, visit www.RiversAlive.org.