Our Town: Little River

Volunteers gather for annual clean up

Coming Clean

Volunteers are invited to join the Little River Clean-up at 9 a.m. Oct 11.

Olde Rope Mill Park, 690 Rope Mill Road, Woodstock

Information: 770-479-1813, ext. 246; www.ccwsa.com

Paula Schubert grew up playing alongside the clear waters of the Little River, a 30-mile stretch of tributary that branches off the Etowah River in Cherokee County. As an adult, she’s still fascinated by the river’s allure.

“From my house now, I can walk to the river,” said the Woodstock resident. “It’s always been near and dear to my heart.”

For the last five years, that enduring affection has inspired Schubert to round up her friends in the Atlanta Outdoor Club for a day-long clean-up along the river’s banks from Holly Springs to Woodstock. On Oct. 11, she’ll be out there again, leading a crew of kayakers who will pull debris out of the water.

“Being on the water means we get to pick up most of the strange stuff - tires, buckets, plastic chairs, even golf balls,” said Schubert. For five or six hours, we’ll haul out whatever the runoff in the area brings into the river. And there’s always a lot of stuff.”

The annual clean-up event has been ongoing for the last 12 years and usually draws about 60 participants from across the community each year. Five years ago, the project became a collaborative effort, said Lori Forrester, an environmental affairs specialist for Cherokee County Water and Sewerage.

“In the past, groups from Woodstock, Holly Springs and the county’s water authority were doing little clean-ups on their own,” she said. “But we all decided that we’d be more effective doing one together. It’s made for a great partnership, and it’s helped us to draw supporters from groups like the Atlanta Outdoor Club and the Upper Etowah Water Alliance.”

Forrester also works with students in local environmental clubs to raise awareness about how the river flows south into Lake Allatoona, a popular venue for water sports, swimming and recreation in the parks that border it. “We try to pull in as many school students as we can, and a lot of them can get service hours for helping out,” said Forrester.

Despite an annual drive to haul junk and trash out of the water and off of the river banks, keeping the river clean is an on-going battle, said Forrester.

“The biggest problem we have is one we can’t control: Storm water runs into it, bringing stuff with it,” she said. “We also have a wastewater plant that discharges into the river, so we are always carefully monitoring that. But the best thing we can do is to educate people about how they can help. Even simple things like not dumping oil it or cleaning up pet waste along the banks can make a difference.”