Saturday’s Great Lake Allatoona Cleanup is in need of a different kind of volunteer this year: captains with boats.
Volunteer Coordinator Dean Bourne said the boats are needed to carry volunteers across the lake to parts of the shore not easily accessed on foot.
“You could probably walk there if you had all day, but we really just run you across, clean it up and then we leave the bags,” Bourne said. “We don’t put the bags on the boat. We stack the bags up on the shoreline and, a lot of people don’t realize this, but on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after the cleanup we have a group of volunteers that go around and pick up what’s left on the shoreline.”
A list of requirements calls for captains who have an adequate boat for cleanup use. The vessel must be meet all Georgia Department of Natural Resources requirements, and the captain must have a functioning mobile phone. The volunteer captain also must provide fuel for his or her vessel.
Following U.S. Coast Guard regulations, all passengers must have a life jacket and wear it while on the boat.
“If they don’t have life jackets, I can get them life jackets through the [U.S. Army] Corps of Engineers. The Corps of Engineers offers a free life jacket program to anyone, not just us, but to anyone on the lake anytime, to make sure that all individuals have life jackets. It’s a loaner program, and you’ve got to give them back, of course,” Bourne said.
Those interested in serving as a volunteer captain for the cleanup may register on the Lake Allatoona Association’s website, www.lakeallatoonaassoc.com. For more information, contact Bourne at 770-367-9898. Others interested in volunteering can register on the association’s website as well and select an area to clean.
As coordinators look for more volunteers, Shari Henshaw, director of Environmental Programs at the Bartow Office of Community Development, is preparing for a larger amount of educational booths. This year’s lake cleanup is slated to feature 16 booths dedicated to environmental education.
“Education is key in anything,” Henshaw said. “It shapes so many things in our community and it’s just really, really important in the areas of environmental education that people are trained to be good stewards. ...
“We know that is a huge, huge piece of what we do, and it helps get the word out and continue. When people go to the cleanup, they clean the lake, they come back and then they learn — they can walk around and pick up information — and learn about water and how important it is in our community especially.”
This year another of Henshaw’s organizations, the Etowah Clean Sweep, is getting involved with the lake cleanup as well. Volunteers will be working to clear approximately 48 miles of river from Lake Allatoona to Rome as well as clean the lake itself. Henshaw said the dates for both cleanups coincided this year.
“It’s great. Any time we can partner, there’s always strength in numbers, so we can always help and support each other and that’s great,” she said. “I’m looking forward to doing that.”