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Shore Sweep cleanup event this weekend on Lake Lanier
Shore sweep
James Hutchins, left, and Timothy Smith hand off trash picked up Saturday, Sept. 14, from Lake Lanier during the 31st annual Shore Sweep organized by the Lake Lanier Association. - photo by Kenneth Hucks

Lake Lanier is a popular summer destination in Georgia, attracting millions of swimmers and boaters each year, but once the temperature drops and the leaves start to fall, the lake is left with loads of trash and debris its visitors left behind. 

With the help of the Lake Lanier Association, volunteers spread out across the lake to gather trash from its shoreline at the association’s annual Shore Sweep event. 

Last year's record-breaking sweep removed 85 tons of trash from the lake with over 1,200 volunteers. 

This year’s Shore Sweep will take place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 24 at 13 locations around the lake. 

Cleanups will be held at Bald Ridge Marina, Shady Grove and Port Royale Marina in Forsyth County, along with locations in Dawson, Gwinnett and Hall counties.

Volunteers can bring collected trash to Don Carter State ParkLake Lanier Olympic ParkHolly ParkGainesville MarinaBalus Creek Boat RampAqualand Marina and Lanier Islands Boat Ramp.

With the help of the Lake Lanier Association, volunteers spread out across the lake to gather trash from its shoreline at the association’s annual Shore Sweep event. 

Last year's record-breaking sweep removed 85 tons of trash from the lake with over 1,200 volunteers. 

Volunteers can walk the site or drive up by boat or car. 

“Lake Lanier is a huge important resource for all of us, not only for recreation and for, you know, healthy, good living — it's our drinking water,” said Bonny Putney, a Shore Sweep coordinator and volunteer for over 20 years. “This is the one time of year when we all can make a difference in our environment, neighborhood and in our lives.”

Putney described Shore Sweep as “a labor of love for everybody that is on the lake and cares about the lake.” 

“Without all our volunteers, the marinas, the parks, the Corps of Engineers, community partners, including Hall County, City of Gainesville, Keep Hall Beautiful and Gainesville Parks and Rec, there's no way we could do it,” said Putney. 

Since 1966, the Lake Lanier Association has been an advocate for a clean, full and safe Lake Lanier while working to protect the lake and its surroundings, according to its website. 

“Whether you boat on it, fish on it or simply drink the water, it's worth it to get involved,” Lake Lanier Association Executive Director Amy McGuire said.

Volunteers are also encouraged to bring gloves, rope, stakes for floats, a sledge hammer and tarp for their boat. 

For two weeks leading up to Shore Sweep, folks can drop off trash at unmanned advance site locations around the lake. The advanced sites allow volunteers to participate on their own time if they can't make it on the day of Shore Sweep or if there’s more trash than they can pick up in one day.

Advance sites include Gaines Ferry Island, Beaver Island and Nix Bridge Island.

For more information on locations and coordinates for the advanced sites, or to register online for Shore Sweep, visit lakelanier.org/our-work/clean-lake/shore-sweep.

This story originally ran in The Gainesville Times.