Originally created 08/25/02

Volunteers clean in boatloads



Sakes alive! You should have seen what Sierra Club members and volunteers picked up from the Augusta Canal during the Georgia Rivers Alive cleanup Saturday.

Paper, bottles, cans, a box of clothes, fishing corks, bait cups, balls, vehicle tires - so much trash it took a Dumpster to hold it all when the canoeists, kayakers and walkers arrived at the boat dock at Lake Olmstead.

"We picked up a lot of trash today," said Cindy Annis, outings leader for the Sierra Club. "It was surprising. We had lots of old tires. I think everybody had two bags in the canoe."

About 65 people departed from the canal banks at Savannah Rapids Pavilion about 11 a.m. after Augustan Sam Booher, the chairman of the Sierra Club in Georgia, and his wife, Laurie, signed them up to ensure they receive their Rivers Alive T-shirts next month.

Each year, local Sierra Club members clean the canal at least once. This year, they became the organizing group for the Department of Natural Resources statewide Rivers Alive program, Mr. Booher said.

"They've got 116 groups in Georgia that are going to be picking up garbage under the Rivers Alive program this year," he said. "Most are going to do it in October, which is the sensible time. Some are going to do it in September, but I thought I would jump off and be the first."

Mr. Booher invited the public to attend, and many responded.

One of them, Chuck Elliott, even brought two extra kayaks for other people to use.

"My attitude is Augusta is a fantastic place, and people need to get out and experience the Augusta Canal and see what we have five minutes from downtown Augusta," Mr. Elliott said.

"And you can't do that sitting on your butt in Olmstead Park. You need to get out and become a part of the solution vs. dropping a piece of trash and becoming part of the problem."

Mr. Booher credits the Savannah Waterways Forum with getting the canal, which begins at the lock and dam in Columbia County and ends in Augusta, opened to the public in the early 1990s after it was closed for several years.

"As a result of that, we're now able to do canal cleanups," he said.

SIERRA CLUB INFO

The local Sierra Club spearheaded a volunteer cleanup of the Augusta Canal on Saturday as part of Rivers Alive, Georgia's statewide river cleanup program. The Augusta cleanup was the first such event in the state this year. To learn more about other Sierra Club outings and community service, call 863-2324.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylviaco@augustachronicle.com.