For more than 15 years, Renew Our Rivers cleanups have removed more than 10.4 million pounds of trash from Alabama lakes and waterways. Now, a group of citizens in communities around Lake Martin have begun to expand these cleanups to roadsides and neighborhoods.

Led by the Lake Martin Resource Association and PATH (Prosperity Again Through Health), “Trash Walks” along the highways and byways are providing needed attention to areas everyone sees, and for trash to be removed before it has a chance to find its way into the watershed.

“We saw a need to take this into the community so everyone benefits,” said John Thompson, president of the Lake Martin Resource Association (LMRA). “Our mission has two parts — first, it’s educational, and second it’s for overall cleanup and community beautification.”IMG_0127

The most recent “Trash Walk” occurred Saturday, May 23, on Young Ferry Road and several other byways around the Smith Mountain and Dare Park areas. Although it was a holiday weekend, the team of 13 volunteers picked up 35 bags of trash and some large metal pieces. “We don’t just walk along the road,” Thompson said. “When we clean, we clean – digging into the gullies and gutters to pull all the trash out. That’s the only way to ensure you get it all.”

The walks are a part of the LMRA’s Clean Lake Martin Community (CLMC) initiative. “Last November we assembled a whole crew from the city and county,” said Thompson. “We knew we could do more and do it on a regular basis.” From this initial meeting a plan was hatched to do monthly cleanups in the communities around the lakes.

Shortly after the meeting, Dan Replogle approached Thompson about a possible partnership. Replogle is chair for an area non-profit called the Council for Prosperity thru Health (CP-H). This organization partners with area organizations and volunteers to promote health and wellness in the community through education, events and community projects. The encounter led to a partnership between PATH and LMRA.

“It is really a perfect fit,” said Thompson. “Clean communities are healthy communities and this gave us a good name – PATH to a Clean Lake Martin Community.”

The first “Trash Walk” was held in February and organizers were heartened by the response. “On a less than ideal day, we had 20 people show up,” Thompson remembers. “We filled 56 bags of trash and removed nine tires from approximately 20 miles of roadway.”

The program really got underway in March with two more “walks.” One occurred with more than 40 volunteers along Highway 229 from Highway 63 to Martin Dam collecting 60 bags of trash. Another group of 30 volunteers picked up 40-plus bags in other target areas. In April, 13 volunteers collected more than 35 bags of trash. “It’s really beginning to get traction,” Thompson said. “People are getting out and doing more on their own.”

Since its inception, PATH to a Cleaner Lake Martin Community volunteers have removed more than 2 tons of trash in four short months. The June PATH Trash Walk is scheduled for Saturday, June 27 at 8 a.m. Volunteers should meet in the parking lot at Flint Hill Methodist Church to receive assignments and pick up supplies. The targeted roadsides will be Coven Abbott, Coley Creek, Dadeville Road and others nearby.

For more information about other community and health-related activities visit the LMRA or PATH websites.

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