Volunteers remove litter at High Rock Lake Clean Sweep

Published 12:10 am Sunday, October 14, 2018

By Liz Moomey

LEXINGTON — Volunteers pulled out bottles, tires, propane tanks and boats during High Rock Lake Clean Sweep on Saturday.

The sweep was once an annual event but ended in 1991 after lack of support. Organizers Barry Childers and Shane Graham decided to bring back the community effort of removing and debris from High Rock Lake.

Childers said he attended clean sweeps as a child.

“I was a young kid,” he said. “My family helped every year. After talking to Shane, we said let’s start it up.”

Organizations, like High Rock Lake Association, High Rock Lake River Rats, North Carolina Wildlife Resources and Cube Hydro, attended the clean sweep offering boats to haul debris and people to pick up litter. Together, 14 boats rode around the lake from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. taking trash to the shoreline.

“This is amazing,” said Karen Baldwin, the property compliance supervisor at Cube Hydro. Cube was so glad to see the community come together. We’re looking forward to doing it again.”

Nearing the end of the day, volunteers hauled two discarded boats to the shore. Ashley O’Hare, a Wildlife Resource Commission officer, helped tow one of the boats back to shore. She said she has been wanting to remove the boat from High Rock Lake for some time but didn’t have the resources to.

“I’ve been wanting this out for a long time,” O’Hare said.

O’Hare said discarding litter of a certain size can be a felony and the commission could try to track down the boat owners. She also mentioned the litter doesn’t necessarily come from people at the lake, but can travel through the stormwater systems and end up in High Rock Lake.

Baldwin was on the Cube Hydro boat as they towed back a second boat.

“We pulled that thing halfway across the lake,” Baldwin said. “It was the catch of the day.”

Some volunteers spoke about the litter they pulled from High Rock Lake, including a bowling ball, an above ground swimming pool and multiple tires.

“This is one of the best scavenger hunts I’ve ever attended,” one of the volunteers joked to another.

Childers said he was hoping for more volunteers to come out, but he said he was happy with the work they did, especially after Hurricane Michael caused power outages and the lake level being higher than expected.

“For the first year since 1991, we had a great turnout,” Childers said.

Volunteers received free lunch from Domino’s and Lexington BBQ.

For more information, visit www.hrla.com.