Lambert family helps clean Lake Jordan 15 years running
For Jon Lambert and his two sons, taking part in the annual Renew Our Rivers cleanup on Lake Jordan has become a family tradition. They have been among the earliest volunteers on the lake for every cleanup for nearly 15 years.
“I make a point to come back every year because the lake is important to me,” said Ken Lambert, who drives three hours from his Huntsville home for the event. “The lake is a place that I’ve visited my whole life, and I want to keep it clean for generations to come. Renew Our Rivers is important because it’s the driving catalyst that gets people working together for a great cause.”
Chris Lambert agrees with his brother, adding their family believes giving back to the community is their responsibility.
“Our father always taught us that if you are going to use something, always make sure you leave it in better condition than you found it,” Chris said. “We have always strived to apply this to all aspects of our lives, including spending time at the lake.”
Jon got involved in Renew Our Rivers in 2002 soon after his brother, Bill, retired and moved to the lake. Jon worked on his brother’s pontoon boat, helping to spot and haul in floating debris.
By the next year, Jon was the captain of his own boat, with his sons, who were then in college, lending a hand as his crew.
Through the years, other family members and friends have joined the team. They work together to remove trash and debris from the 1-mile stretch of shoreline that connects the Lambert family’s four lakefront homes.
“We use a pontoon boat to get in and out of areas and hold the hundreds of pounds of trash we pick up every year,” said Ken. “My brother and I usually wear waders and work along the shoreline while others use kayaks to get what we can’t reach.”
Ken and Chris have turned the cleanup into a brotherly competition, with each vying to see who can haul in the most fishing lures that can later be cleaned and reused. At this year’s cleanup, the Lambert title went to Chris, who found seven lures.
Chris said the family has pulled all kinds of “bizarre” items out of the lake through the years. But for him, the most unusual was finding a toilet seat, which sparked a heated debate on how it got into the water.
“The year of Hurricane Dennis was the largest haul with over 10 tons of trash removed from the lake, including a floating dock, which we hauled two miles down the lake,” Jon noted. “But the most unusual item we have found in my opinion was a water heater.”
Jon said at the cleanup this spring, the Lambert family collected 30 bags of trash, along with three chairs and several plastic buckets.
The Lamberts were among more than 275 volunteers who pulled 2.9 tons of trash from Lake Jordan at the Renew Our Rivers cleanup on April 23. Since the first Lake Jordan cleanup in 1991, homeowners and other volunteers have collected 67.9 tons of debris from the lake.
“The Lamberts do an absolutely outstanding job,” said Barbara Dreyer, volunteer coordinator, Lake Jordan Home Owners and Boat Owners Association. “I can always count on them. Whatever I need, they are ready to help.”
Since Alabama Power launched Renew Our Rivers with a few small community cleanups 17 years ago, more than 99,000 volunteers have collected about 14 million tons of trash from waterways across the Southeast.
This year, 32 cleanups are on tap, including the event on Lake Jordan. Volunteers have removed more than 35 tons of debris from lakes and rivers since January.
The brothers call the lake their “second home.” Chris said he especially treasures the hours he spent as a boy helping their grandfather, William Lambert, in his garden and anticipating the reward for hard work — cooling off in the nearby lake.
“I can remember countless summer days, Easters, Thanksgivings, Christmases and Fourth of July holidays enjoying the lake,” said Ken. “My family has four houses close together on the lake, so it’s always a family reunion when I am lucky enough to visit.”
The Lamberts all said they are proud to do their part to preserve the lake’s beauty and keep it clean.
“God gave us this beautiful Earth and put us in charge of maintaining it,” Chris said. “Whether we are simply picking up trash or talking to our lake neighbors and fishermen about what we are doing, it is important to set an example of keeping the lake clean. So many people benefit from the use of the lake in a variety of ways, so it is essential to keep it clean and safe for everyone to enjoy.”
– Carla Davis