Third annual Sweep the ’Hooch: Hundreds pitch in to clean up Chattahoochee River

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — The largest cleanup event in the state of Georgia had record-breaking numbers of participants this year — the event’s third.

About 600 volunteers geared up for the multi-site cleanup of the Chattahoochee River Saturday, April 13.

Chattahoochee RiverKeeper, National Park Service and Trout Unlimited organized this cleanup that covered 48 miles.

Individual and group volunteers worked as paddlers, waders or walkers from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the 22 sites stretching from Buford Dam to Paces Mill in Atlanta.

Last year’s cleanup collected nearly four tons of trash, and, this year, organizers say a larger trash collection was expected because of the record number of volunteers.

“This is the biggest cleanup in the state of Georgia,” Rivers Alive Board member Shar Mallory said. “It’s definitely a networking community on this cleanup.”

Volunteers included local kayakers, paddlers, boaters, fishers and even Boy Scouts. Regardless of their backgrounds, every volunteer had a common thread — love for the river and the community surrounding it.

“I use the river and I want to help make it better for everybody,” local kayaker Frank Poltenson said. “The lifeblood of any community is a river.”

Volunteer paddler and kayaker Pat Healy said the Chattahoochee is more than just a river; it is also a tourist attraction and economy booster.

“More people ought to come out and take better care of it,” Healy said. “This is giving back to the local economy, too.”

Mallory said along with the annual Sweep the ’Hooch, Chattahoochee RiverKeeper organizes several cleanup events throughout the year that benefit the environment and educate those involved.

“I just love doing river cleanups,” Mallory said. “CRK does all kinds of river events that help educate and keep people enlightened.”

Learn more at www.sweepthehooch.org.

This article was published in the Forsyth Herald April 24, 2013 edition