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Volunteers brave rain to sweep the shores
Annual lake clean-up collects 33,000 pounds of debris locally
8. Shore Sweep pic1
Kirby Burt, from left, Leisha Hartis and James Hey collected enough debris from Lake Lanier to fill their boat during Saturdays Shore Sweep. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson County News

The rain was misting, the wind was blowing and it was chilly outside.

It was a perfect day for Paula and Justin Alicea to spend kayaking across Lake Lanier, according to the couple.

The duo joined hundreds of volunteers to brave the weather Saturday for the 27th annual Lake Lanier Shore Sweep.

"We live within four miles of the lake, so we're out there often enough that we would like to see it maintained and a pretty shoreline," Paula Alicea said. "We enjoy being involved in the community and feeling like we're making a difference in our area and helping keep it beautiful from day to day activities."

They filled five bags of trash as they paddled from cove to cove and island to island.

"We stacked the bags on the kayaks and tied them off with string we found along the way," she said.

Her husband added: "The lake is our jewel."

Massive amounts of Styrofoam, metal signs, pieces of docks, old furniture and tires were among the debris collected in Dawson County.

Despite the rain that lingered throughout the day, more than 33,000 pounds, or 16.5 tons, was dropped off at War Hill Park, Dawson County's staging area and one of 12 across the lake.

"With the day that it is with the overcast weather, we still had an excellent turnout in terms of the number of boats, especially in the War Hill area," said Gordon Brand, who oversaw the lake-wide campaign.

"We set up the advance drop off location that went from one week to two weeks over on Deer Island. We've had that island available for two weeks, so people have been dropping off trash in advance of Shore Sweep."

A new phone app the association began using may also have played a role in the Shore Sweep's success this year.

"Scouts went out in advance with this new app we've talked about, Trash Out, and took photographs of the locations, so each of the captains in this area knew where all of the trash was located," Brand said.

Chelsea Cioffi said she was glad to take part in the clean-up with her son Carson Letchworth, a young Cub Scout.

"We live on War Hill, so we come up here and play sometimes, and we know how bad it can get," she said. "We think it's important to keep it clean and show him that it's important to care for the environment."

Carson summed up his morning adventure that included a hike around the park, finding several hidden trash treasures and earning his conservation badge.

"I just really wanted to come and clean the world. It's like Earth Day today, an early Earth Day," he said.