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Local environmental groups putting on Land Between the Lakes volunteer cleanup days

Keep The Tennessee River Beautiful

A pair of nonprofits are teaming up with the U.S. Forest Service to coordinate and promote cleanup days in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.

Friends of Land Between the Lakes and Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful are leading the charge and recruiting volunteers to aid the U.S. Forest Service through a trio of service days – the Tennessee River Grand Slam Cleanup Series, the Turkey Bay Cleanup Day and the Canal Loop Trail Work Day – to keep LBL environmentally clean for visitors and native wildlife.

The first cleaning day – a river cleanup organized by Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful – will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m at Cypress Bay Marina and Resort in Buchannan, Tennessee.

Kathleen Gibi is the executive director for Keep The Tennessee River Beautiful. She said the group has removed more than 53,000 pounds of trash from the river so far in 2023 and that number is only going up.

“Helping people to fall back in love with the river and realize the natural beauty in their own backyard is really pivotal because it helps people realize there is something worth protecting here,” Gibi said.

U.S. Forest Service Communications Specialist Emily Cleaver says visitors should always pack in and pack out to help keep these areas clean year-round. She says these events help volunteers bond over the experience.

“It gets folks together,” Cleaver said. “They bond over being volunteers and ideally it gives them that spirit to come back and help with other projects we have here at Land Between The Lakes.”

Volunteers will also be helping to clear debris left by strong winds and severe weather, like the Dec. 10, 2021 tornado outbreak. The storm devastated the recreation area, scattering debris and ripping up forested areas.

The event is also being supported by Illinois-based nonprofit Living Lands and Waters, which will supply volunteers with 30-foot cleanup boats.

Volunteers for the Tennessee River cleanup days are required to sign in once they arrive. Participants will be supplied with boots, life jackets and other gear before going out on the water.

Friends of Land Between the Lakes is coordinating the other two cleanup events at Turkey Bay and Canal Loop Trail.

Turkey Bay Cleanup Day will take place April 15 at 80 Turkey Creek Road in Golden Pond, Kentucky. Volunteers will be picking up litter and trimming branches along the Turkey Bay Off Vehicle Highway Area. Tools and protective equipment will be provided for volunteers.

Canal Loop Trail Work Day will be held April 22 in Grand Rivers, Kentucky. The 10-mile trail is popular among hikers and bicyclists. Volunteers for the event will also trim vegetation and do tread work to prevent trail erosion.

Friends of Land Between The Lakes volunteer coordinator Aly Mallory said littering is a consistent problem LBL faces and therefore needs consistent attention.

“The lakes bring the litter up to our shores whether we like it or not,” Mallory said. “The importance of these cleanup days is to just keep things looking nice, to help keep the environment clean for the animals that live out here and for all the people that use our trails.

“It's a lot of fun. It's a really enjoyable way to spend the day out.”

Mason Galemore is a Murray State student studying journalism. He was the editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper. Since then has explored different publication avenues such as broadcasting. He hopes to travel as a journalist documenting conflict zones and different cultures. He remembers watching the Arab Spring in 2011 via the news when he was a kid, which dawned in a new age of journalism grounded in social media. His favorite hobbies are hiking, photography, reading, writing and playing with his Australian Shepard, Izzy. He is originally from Charleston, Missouri.
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