Still looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day? Look no further. On April 21st, the 23rd annual
Conasauga River Watershed Clean-up event will take place concurrently at seven sites
in Whitfield and Murray counties from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This event was originally
scheduled for United Way’s Make a Difference Day last October but was unfortunately rained out. When talking about the watershed that we all live in, it’s important to not give up, so the event was rescheduled for its new date.
The Conasauga River is 93 miles long and begins in the Cohutta mountains of Murray County. It then flows into southeast Tennessee and curves south back into Georgia, forming the border between Murray and Whitfield Counties. The river is a popular spot to kayak, canoe, fish, and snorkel in. And it is also a major source of water for drinking and industry. So, it is important to keep our river clean! The annual river cleanup is a great way to help take care of the watershed as you help remove litter from the banks of streams and seven different areas of the Conasauga River watershed.
You may be wondering – what is a watershed? It is the area of land that drains water running off it into the same body of water. In our area that body of water is the Conasauga River and that area of land, the Conasauga watershed, is about 730 square miles in size. It is important to understand that the land and river are connected, so that what happens on the land often affects what happens in the river. For example, fast food wrappers or a soda bottle thrown out of a car window or dropped in a parking lot can be carried by ditches and storm drains into our streams and river. According to the 2009 Keep America Beautiful Litter Study, “Wind and weather, traffic, and animals all move litter into gutters, lawns and landscaped areas, alleyways, and parking structures.” From there, this litter can make its way into the nearest stream. There is no “away” when it comes to litter. The trash found during our annual cleanup event is the result of littering, illegal dumping, and accidental loss of items due to an unsecured load on a vehicle and may include packaging, tires, and much more.
The Conasauga is one of the six most biologically diverse freshwater river systems in
the country. It supports 24 endangered species, and a dozen other imperiled species
like the Southern Pigtoe mussel and the Conasauga logperch, which is a fish found in
no other place in the world. Litter and water pollution have a negative impact on the
quality of life of these animals, reducing their oxygen levels and food sources.
Improperly placed trash, or litter, can disrupt and harm wildlife. For example, trash made
of plastic can trap animals if is large and could be eaten if it is in small pieces. Once
eaten the plastic can release toxic chemicals which harm fish or the plastic pieces can fill their stomachs and cause the fish to starve, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Conasauga River Watershed Cleanup, part of Georgia’s statewide cleanup effort called Rivers Alive, helps remove trash that was not taken care of responsibly from our beautiful streams and river. This will be my first year to participate in the clean-up. I am excited to join in on the big day and help make such a large impact on our local environment in just a few hours. Will you join me this year?
Volunteers for this year’s clean-up event can expect to spend a few hours in the
morning picking up trash and, depending on the location, removing invasive plants like
Chinese privet. Volunteers should wear sturdy shoes or boots, long pants, and long
sleeve shirts. Gloves, trash bags, water, and snacks will be provided at each site. And,
as a thank you, volunteers will receive a t-shirt and hat commemorating this year’s event while
To download the event flyer with directions to the seven locations
visit www.keepdaltonwhitfieldbeautiful.org. For more details, call 706-278-5001 or follow
Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful on Facebook to join and share the event listing.