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One Trashy County

Lake Tire
Lake Tire

Saturday’s Big Sweep was a huge success. I volunteered with the Sierra Club at Latta Plantation to clean up the shores of Mountain Island Lake. Our group of six took a boat ride to the lake shore near McDowell Creek Cove. Within an hour and a half, the six of us collected at least three large trash bags full of– mostly recyclable– trash. We also found a tire, a bunch of baseballs (game of fetch, anyone?), a shredded fishing vest, broken fishing poles, a rusty metal barrel and two mismatched shoes.

The volunteers wondered how the trash got there: did it float back into the woods when the lake level rose? Were campers not packing out their trash? Were people accidentally littering or blatantly littering? Opinions were divided; some volunteers think people litter on purpose because they know folks like us will come along and pick up their trash (which is a disgusting thought) and others thought most of it was probably accidental, not able to digest a reality where people would litter on purpose.

However the trash got there, we all felt good about offering our time to pick it up. As we hiked in the trail-less, road-less area, we found several areas where the woods were so full of trash it was difficult to walk without crunching on rubbish with every step. In some places the trash swept back into the woods 1,000 feet or more from the shore.

It was a sad sight. It is difficult to understand why anyone– accidentally, or not– would allow their junk to float around, and rest on the edges of, our city’s drinking water source.

In a time when so much seems to be going wrong in our world, I have to announce to you all that pitching in– being proactive about caring for our corner of the world– will lift your spirits.

Mecklenburg County coordinators counted 195 volunteers at the Mountain Island Lake location. Those volunteers removed 4,000 pounds of trash from the lakeshore. All nine Big Sweep locations across the county, including Mountain Island Lake, hosted 735 volunteers and  removed 16,200 pounds of trash. Truly amazing for four hours of volunteer time.

The only hard part was leaving knowing we hadn’t picked up every scrap of trash we could. Unfortunately for my group of six, we ran out of trash bags.

 

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Big Clean Up on Saturday

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

 

Sierra Club and partners clean

Mountain Island Lake

The source of drinking water for nearly half a million people in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area becomes target for the watershed cleaning project, Big Sweep

 

Charlotte, N.C. — As part of a larger series of events, the Sierra Club, Mecklenburg County and CPCC will organize volunteers on October 4 to clean up and protect Mt Island Lake, the source of drinking water for nearly half a million people in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area . Volunteers will meet at the Latta Plantation Nature Reserve to clean trails, creek beds, and Mt Island Lake shoreline. In addition, volunteers can travel with the Mecklenburg County Stormwater Watch crew to the ‘island’ of Mt Island Lake, to remove trash and debris. Big Sweep requests volunteers bring their own non-motorized water craft, if desired, to clean along the shoreline. This event, along with the upcoming tree plantings in November, aim to offset the impact of rapid development in Mecklenburg and neighboring counties on Mountain Island Lake.

 

Background:

 

As part of the Catawba River system, Mountain Island Lake will share in the difficulties of what American Rivers named “the most endangered river in the US.” Much of the western side of the lake and numerous tributaries that feed it remain unprotected and vulnerable to deforestation and encroaching suburbia, which lead to shoreline destabilization, flooding, and dirty water.

 

The Mt Island Lake events:

 

The Central Piedmont group of the Sierra Club, Mecklenburg County, and CPCC will gather activists and students, clean up the McDowell Creek watershed during the nationwide ‘Big Sweep’ event, and plant several hundred trees

 

On Saturday, Oct 4 (9:00am-1:00pm), in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services, volunteers will clean up the Mountain Island Lake shoreline during the annual Big Sweep event. Meet at the Latta Plantation Nature Preserve. Gar Creek Canoe Access on 5226 Sample Road, Huntersville, NC 28078. Please register on our homepage at nc.sierraclub.org.

 

On Saturday, Nov 22 (9:00am-12:00), volunteers will plant a large number of trees to help filter groundwater and thus protect one of the most endangered watersheds in the country. Saturday’s event will cap off an entire week of plantings, with upwards of 500+ people planting trees throughout the week. A celebratory picnic lunch will follow.

Two Sierra Club Events

Oct 4, Saturday, (9:00am-1:00pm), in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services, we will clean up the Mountain Island Lake shoreline during the annual Big Sweep event. 

Nov 22, Saturday, (9:00am -12:00pm), we will plant a large number of trees to help protect this endangered watershed. A picnic lunch will follow.

Learn more and sign up here.

We will discuss both of these opportunities at future Earth Club meetings. Hope you can join us.

Though 70 percent of Mountain Island Lake’s shoreline is protected land, 80 percent of the tributaries that funnel water into the lake are not– and development is occuring all along the edges of those already fragile waterways.

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