Residents in Whitfield and Murray counties are invited to participate in the 25th annual Conasauga River Watershed Clean-Up event on Saturday to help keep local waterways clean at one of seven locations.
Over the past 24 years, 254,000 pounds of litter have been pulled out of the Conasauga Watershed by 6,089 volunteers. This took 18,266 volunteer hours. Help the group reach 20,000 volunteer hours by participating in the 25th anniversary event.
One of the largest volunteer events in the community, the clean-up is hosted by a partnership of several local nonprofits, businesses, agencies and environmental organizations. It is also a part of the United Way of Northwest Georgia's Make a Difference Day and Rivers Alive, a statewide clean-up program sponsored by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
Last year, 219 volunteers picked up and removed 9,499 pounds of garbage from seven locations. The time spent by volunteers last year is valued at $17,958. Over the past quarter of a century, volunteers have unearthed many odd items including a safe, a piano, ostrich bones and a trampoline.
One of the six most biologically diverse freshwater river systems in the United States, the Conasauga River and its tributaries support 24 endangered species and a dozen other imperiled species, including the Southern pigtoe mussel and the Conasauga logperch, a fish found nowhere else in the world. Removing litter from the watershed protects these river species and even marine species in the Gulf of Mexico, where the water eventually ends up. And recreational value is improved by enhancing the beauty and safety of our streams and river.
This year's event is from 9 a.m. to noon at seven different sites across both Whitfield and Murray counties. You can volunteer at one of the following locations:
1. Conasauga River at Carlton Petty Road bridge
2. Conasauga River at Ga. Highway 2 bridge
3. Conasauga River at Lower King's/Norton Bridge roads
4. Holly Creek in Murray County, on the Chattahoochee National Forest
5. Mill Creek tributary in Dalton
6. Coahulla Creek at Prater's Mill
7. Lakeshore Park in Dalton
Participants should arrive early for on-site registration. Volunteers can expect to spend a few hours in the morning picking up litter and should wear sturdy shoes or boots, long pants and longsleeve shirts. Gloves and trash bags will be provided at each site. After the cleanup, volunteers will receive a free commemorative T-shirt and 2020 Conasauga River calendar, as well as snacks to celebrate their hard work.
To learn more about the river clean-up call Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful at (706) 278-5001 or visit www.KeepDaltonWhitfieldBeautiful.org to download the event flyer with directions to each site. Join and share the event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KeepDaltonWhitfieldBeautiful.
Event organizer Gretchen Lugthart said "I am glad that we have been able to help take care of this wonderful natural resource, the Conasauga River, over all these years. However, each year it is evident that the job is not done because people continue to litter."
Event organizers include: The Nature Conservancy, Rivers Alive, United Way of Northwest Georgia, Dalton State College, Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority, Whitfield County Public Works, Limestone Valley RC&D, U.S. Forest Service, Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful, Murray County and Whitfield County Extension offices and Keep Chatsworth-Murray Beautiful. Funding for this event is being provided by the Conasauga River Alliance, Dalton Utilities, Engineered Floors, The Nature Conservancy, Shaw Industries and Trinseo.