Wednesday, September 29, 2010

TogetherGreen Volunteer Cleanup Results

On Saturday, ten volunteers joined two of the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest staff as part of the TogetherGreen Volunteer cleanup of the swamp along U. S. Highway 78.  Unfortunately, another twenty volunteers were expected, so the entire targeted area was not cleaned.  However, those volunteers that showed did a tremendous job during the three hours of work!

Dressed in orange vests and armed with litter grabbers provided by Keep Dorchester County Beautiful, volunteers hit the treeline south of U. S. Highway 78.  The majority of the litter was located from the edge of the road, down the steep embankment, and approximately six feet into the treeline.  Previous high water in the area concentrated much of the litter at the base of the road embankment.  The main reason for targeting this area of the swamp was to eliminate the litter, nearly all of which was floatable, before the next round of high water washed it downstream.  The rain of the last few days has caused the water at Bridge Lake (where US Hwy 78 crosses the water at the east end of the yellow-shaded area) to rise five feet.  Sadly, the red-shaded area shows where we were able to clean and we did not reach Bridge Lake.  Some of the litter we did not collect may well be on its way downstream to the Edisto River.

During our daily commute to the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, we have observed lightweight trash escaping from garbage trucks rumbling along U. S. Highway 78.  However, easily 95% of the trash we collected consisted of beverage containers (glass beer, liquor and soda bottles; plastic soda and water bottles; aluminum beer and soda cans; foam coffee cups; and paper soda cups) that were likely thrown from a passing vehicle.  It is possible that some of the lightweight beverage containers blew out of garbage trucks, but the glass containers or the plastic bottles partially-filled and capped were certainly launched into the swamp by motorists.  Unless attitudes change, the 0.4 miles that we cleaned will inevitably fill with litter to match the remainder of the highway right-of-way.

Remember in school when you asked, "When am I ever going to use this math?"  Well, sharpen your pencil because it's time!  Twelve individuals working for three hours along 0.4 miles on one side of a road will pick up how many bags of trash?  One, two, three...carry the nine...and the answer is 103 bags or one full dump truck!  Remember, that's 0.4 miles on ONE side of the highway...that's lousy math.

Images by Mark Musselman

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