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Family encounters large trash pile in middle of High Rock Lake

Every Monday Anne and George Veach take their boat out on High Rock Lake, near Tamarac Marina, with their daughter, Susan. This Monday was no different, except for the two-mile long pile of trash and debris the family saw floating on the lake.
It’s become a known occurrence to see debris floating in the lake. But a few days ago, Veach said, there was an extraordinary amount of garbage in the water.
“All of a sudden, we were upon all of this stuff. It covered the whole main channel. It was just a big mess,” Anne said.
The couple and their daughter drove their pontoon boat beside the debris to get a better look at what was floating in the water. They saw a lot of drink bottles and cans, tree limbs and pieces of wood.
Her husband has lived in that area since the 1960s and never recalled seeing that much debris, Anne said.
“It was like a floating island out there with all the debris in one place,” she said.
The family turned around fearing logs and other tree limbs could be hidden underneath the water and could damage the boat.
She said it’s not unusual to see tree limbs against their boat ramp, but they were surprised to see so much debris gathered in one place. The mass appeared to be floating toward the dam about three miles away.
Veach said she can only fathom that it was the rain that brought the debris further out into the middle of the lake.
“We had had a lot of wind and rain in the last several weeks,” she said.
The rain is exactly what caused the pile up of debris, said Wildlife Officer Tony Sharum.
“When we have the amount of rain we’ve had it’s like a big drain that’s been pulled and sucked into High Rock Lake,” Sharum said.
He said High Rock Lake is the first big lake on the Yadkin River chain, and “it catches all the debris.”
Sharum said in his years as a wildlife officer, he’s seen trees, barrels, buckets, dead cows and freezers floating in High Rock Lake.
Some areas, he said, like the Second Creek area near Tamarac Marina, catch a lot of debris because of the way the current flows. He said the current flow pushes debris right into the area.
He recommends boaters who plan to fish or be on their boat at dusk scout their intended area when it’s daylight to see where the limbs and floating logs may be located.
“If you strike them in the dark, it can overturn your boat. You also really need to survey the area if you are carrying skiers,” he said.
There is no group or department responsible for maintaining High Rock Lake, but there is an annual volunteer clean-up day, the N.C. Big Sweep.
Michael Lambert is the coordinator for the local Big Sweep cleanup. Volunteers meet at the entrance of Dan Nicholas Park to receive location assignments and bags. This year’s event will take place Sept. 21 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“This started as a shoreline clean up, and I think every county has some participation,” Lambert said.
The volunteers pick up mostly plastic bottles and other small trash. The volunteers do not collect tree limbs and driftwood because they don’t have the manpower and equipment, Lambert said.
The organization provides trash bags and at the end of the day tallies how much was collected. Lambert said in years past, they’ve had anywhere from two dozen to 100 volunteers.
“We work around the boat access ramp and fishing access. It’s where the trash is put and where the people gather,” he said.
Anyone who would like to volunteer during the Big Sweep can contact Lambert at his office at 704-216-7833, via his cell 704-232-9866 or at michael.lambert@rowancountync.gov .

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