Imagine 120 heavy duty garbage bags filled with litter. If each of these bags weighs 30 pounds, you’ve got yourself almost two tons of litter. Filling these black bags is not a glamorous task, but the volunteers are thrilled by the results. The satisfaction and nourishment gained from a pristine view of the Locust Fork River is priceless. For the past 18 months on the second Saturday of the month, devoted volunteers go to “Pick Up and Clean Up” our river’s edges.
The Locust Fork beautification program began in May 2017 with a single cleanup site and determined FLFR volunteers. Cleanup activity at this first location, the heavily trafficked Swann Bridge, soon expanded to three sites, adding crews at Mardis Mill and Taylor Ford. Because good ideas spread faster than gossip, new groups began popping up along the river. Two groups are working around the Ala 160 bridge in Nectar. There are reports of a family combing the area around Horton Mill Bridge.
Anyone with eyes can see that we have a litter problem in Blount County. We are a messy bunch. Two years ago at the Blount County Fair, FLFR conducted an informal survey with 66 participants. The question asked was “Seeing trash under bridges and along roadways bothers me: a. not at all; b. somewhat; c. a lot.
The results showed 1.5 percent of respondents were not bothered at all by litter, while 10.4 percent were somewhat bothered. Since everyone else was disturbed a lot by roadside and river litter, does this imply that only 11 percent of us are making this huge mess?
For decades, yes decades, FLFR collected garbage – bag by bag, ton by ton, year after year.
In 2017, we began keeping better metrics. This is how we know that during 2017 our cleanup project drew around 15 people who donated 105 volunteer hours. In 2018, more than 20 people gave 138 hours of their time to collect an estimated 3,600 pounds of someone else’s garbage.
At Swann Bridge we partner with the statewide Alabama PALS anti-litter program, yet we still cannot keep up. Even with our substantial resources we need more help. Anyone can do this and we hope everyone will. Find a spot and commit to keeping it clean. And by all means take before and after pics and send them to us to post on Facebook. You deserve to have bragging rights. Your Sunday school class, civic group, or study club can also partner with PALS and have a sign erected to show your dedication. Or you can ease into cleanup by registering at www.FLFR.org under the “Upcoming Events” section and join with others who relish a task offering the rewards of immediate gratification and civic accomplishment.