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A kayak cleanup
Project to clear trash from Etowah River
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Forsyth County News

Saturday's Etowah River project is no ordinary cleanup. But event leader Richard Grove is no ordinary man.

Grove, one of the river's strongest advocates, has led kayaking journeys ranging from a few miles from his Forsyth home to the Gulf of Mexico.

His next journey will be 9.5 miles along the Etowah, between Kelly Bridge and Old Federal roads, for a six-hour cleanup event.

"People need to be prepared for not just a two-hour event," Grove said. "I'm just getting warmed up after two hours."

Grove will lead 20 paddlers down the river. But instead of removing trash from the riverbank and surrounding land, the paddlers will stay in their kayaks, cleaning just the river.

"This is going to be a boat-only cleanup," Grove said. "This will cover lots of areas where people normally would not venture to clean up.

"A lot of people won't go out in the water. People don't have boots on and they're not prepared to get their feet and pants wet."

Though he has held seven Etowah River cleaning events this year, Saturday's effort will be confined to Forsyth County, because "I need to start addressing things in my own county."

Grove said he's removed 31 tires from the river this year, among other trash and debris.

The event begins at 7:30 a.m. with a free breakfast at the Huddle House on Hwy. 20 in Cumming. It will end about six hours later, or whenever the 9.5-mile stretch of river is clean.

Kevin Smith of Keep Forsyth County Beautiful said several areas along the river are notorious for trash buildup.

Smith said a boat-only cleanup would have a significant impact, "especially with someone like Richard, who spends a lot of time on the river."

"He knows every inch of that stretch specifically, so Richard can definitely get in there and get a lot done," he said. "Getting down in the river itself allows you to go places that normally people wouldn't go."