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High Rock Lake Clean Sweep returns after 27-year hiatus

It’s a tradition that many longtime High Rock Lake residents remember from years past: the High Rock Lake Clean Sweep, a community effort to clear the water of litter and debris.

The once-annual sweep was last held in 1991, but support waned from key state players and Alcoa.

This year, High Rock residents Shane Graham and Barry Childers want to bring the tradition back. Together with stakeholders like the High Rock Lake Association, High Rock Lake River Rats, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and Cube Hydro, the pair plan to reinstitute the waterway cleanup on Oct. 13.

“We have something special here with our natural resource in Rowan and Davidson counties,” said Graham, who lives on the Lexington side of the lake. “… When the community comes together, it’s a win-win.”

Clean Sweep will be from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with efforts starting at the Southmont Wildlife Access Area on Wildlife Recreation Area Access Road in Lexington.

Cube Hydro will draw the lake down by 2 feet for the cleanup, with staff from the Wildlife Resources Commission on site to conduct pre-launch boat safety checks.

High Rock is the second-largest lake in North Carolina, with more than 300 miles of shoreline. Its size puts it in contact with major hot spots for littering such as U.S. 421 and Interstates 40 and 85.

With the lake feeding into Badin and Tillery, its dam often catches and keeps debris.

“We need our waterways to be clean to protect our natural habitat and to keep the lake safe for recreation,”said Ashley O’Hare, an officer with the Wildlife Resources Commission. “Debris from the Yadkin Watershed floats into the lake, and that can become problematic for boaters, fishermen, swimmers and all those who are passionate about High Rock Lake.”

According to a news release, Graham said the hope is for more than 300 volunteers and 100 pontoon boats to assist in the weekend effort, covering as much of the lake as possible. Volunteers can sign up on from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Southmont access point.

Gloves, trash bags and plastic boat deck coverings will be distributed as well as cove assignments. Volunteers without boats will be shuttled to targeted coves for trash pickup via pontoon boats.

Working together on the effort, Rowan County and Davidson County officials have agreed to split the waste collected, with Davidson County waiving landfill fees.

Volunteers also will receive free lunch from Domino’s and Lexington BBQ.

For more information, contact Shane Graham at 336-596-0428 or visit www.HRLA.com.

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