Whitfield County, Murray County and Polk County, Tennessee, residents are invited to participate in the 27th Annual Conasauga River Watershed Cleanup on Saturday, Oct. 23, at one of eight locations to help keep local waterways clean.
One of the largest local volunteer events in the community, the annual cleanup is hosted in partnership with several local nonprofits, businesses and environmental organizations during United Way’s Make a Difference Day.
Last year 224 volunteers picked up and removed more than 7,033 pounds of garbage from 11 locations. Gretchen Lugthart, a long-time organizer of the event, stated, “I think we have made some progress regarding people’s attitudes toward trash in this region, but until everyone respects our beautiful streams and rivers enough to dispose of trash properly then we will have work to do.”
The Conasauga River is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in the U.S. Its watershed is home to 90 native fish species, more than a dozen of which are endangered or rare, including the Conasauga Logperch, a fish found nowhere else in the world. The Conasauga historically supported at least 44 mussel species, but, sadly, only about 20 species remain.
This year’s event takes place concurrently from 9 a.m. to noon at eight sites across both Whitfield and Murray counties, as well as Polk County, Tennessee. Be a part of the tradition by volunteering at one of the following locations:
• Conasauga River at the Carlton Petty Road bridge.
• Conasauga River at the Highway 2 bridge.
• Conasauga River at the Lower King’s/Norton bridge.
• Holly Creek, Murray County, on the Chattahoochee National Forest.
• Mill Creek tributary in the city of Dalton.
• Lakeshore Park in the city of Dalton.
• Crown Creek in the city of Dalton.
• Conasauga River Snorkeling Hole, Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee.
Participants are encouraged to arrive early for on-site registration. Volunteers can expect to spend a couple of hours in the morning picking up trash. Volunteers should wear sturdy shoes or boots, long pants and long-sleeve shirts. Gloves and trash bags will be provided at each site. T-shirts with this year’s river cleanup logo will be available on a first-come. first-served basis.
This year, volunteers can enter into a raffle for four tickets for a tour on the Southern Belle Riverboat in Chattanooga. The winners can choose to go on either the Sightseeing Cruise or the Sunset Cruise.
Ten copies of the guidebook "Snorkeling the Hidden Rivers of Southern Appalachia” by Casper Cox will also be raffled. Full-color pages introduce you to Casper’s favorite snorkeling sites, including the Conasauga River, with information on location/access, biodiversity, safety and ethics.
To learn more about the river cleanup, call Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful at (706) 278-5001 or visit www.KeepDaltonWhitfieldBeautiful.org to download the event flier with directions to each site. Join and share the event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KeepDaltonWhitfieldBeautiful.
Event sponsors and organizers include Shaw Industries, Engineered Floors, The Nature Conservancy, Rivers Alive, Dalton Utilities, the Conasauga River Alliance, the United Way of Northwest Georgia, the Prater’s Mill Foundation, Dalton State College, the 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, and Keep Chatsworth-Murray Beautiful.