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Volunteers collect trash from Lake Lanier’s shores, waters during annual “Shore Sweep”
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Volunteers from Atlanta Chinese Bible Community Church help with land-based trash collection at Dawson County’s War Hill Park during the 34th annual “Shore Sweep” of Lake Lanier on Sept. 24, 2022. - photo by Julia Hansen

As land-based volunteers scoured Lake Lanier’s shores for bits of trash, teams like Josh Thornton’s group boarded boats to search for debris hidden in its waters or on its beaches. 

“Dock floats are mostly what we’ll be bringing up,” Thornton said as he maneuvered his craft toward a small cove area. 

These buoyant containers, which are used for supporting docks, were just some of the many debris volunteers recovered during the 34th annual Shore Sweep on Sept. 24, held at 10 locations including Dawson County’s War Hill and Toto Creek parks. 

This massive clean-up event where volunteers collect and remove trash from in and around the lake is put on each year by the Lake Lanier Association (LLA). Final numbers for participants involved and cumulative trash collected are expected to be released later this week. 

People came from the Dawson-area lake community and beyond, like dozens of people from Atlanta Chinese Bible Community Church to enthusiastically do their part at War Hill Park. 

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Members from Atlanta Chinese Bible Community Church participated in Saturday's "Shore Sweep" efforts at War Hill Park. - photo by Julia Hansen

Out on the water, Thornton’s boat and others engaged in a bit of friendly competition seeing who could haul in the most dock floats, a task that was easier said than done. For the water teams, moving the several-hundred-pound dock floats that had washed ashore often took at least two adults. 

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David, Josh and Cody Thornton work together to haul a several-hundred-pound dock float from the shores of one of Lake Lanier’s coves. - photo by Julia Hansen

Stakes had to be hammered into the containers just right so that when the boat launched to return to the park ramp, ropes didn’t come loose and send one floating away. 

Kirby Scheimann, who was supervising the War Hill collections, explained this year was his third year as a site captain. Though the volunteers worked all morning to collect debris, there was fortunately less to gather because of pre-event dropoff sites and an estimated “10 percent of the trash,” Scheimann said. 

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A Shore Sweep volunteer watches as one bobcat operator transfers a dock float to another before the container’s disposal. Photo submitted to DCN.

“Dawson County is the reason this place is always a success,” he added. “Between Keep Dawson [County] Beautiful and the support we get from the county–the dumpster, the equipment and the volunteers–it’s amazing what Dawson County does for us every year, and we couldn't be more grateful for it.”