Lanier cleanup Saturday

LAWRENCEVILLE - When the nonprofit Lake Lanier Association says its volunteers are going to clean up Lake Lanier, they don't mess around.

Last year, 1,300 volunteers collected 50 tons of garbage from the lake in a single day. On Saturday, the group will again call its volunteers to arms as it sponsors the 20th annual shore sweep event to remove as much trash as possible from the metro area's main drinking source.

According to Executive Director Vicki Barnhorst, there is a lot of ground to cover, too.

"Lake Lanier has 540 miles of shoreline," she said. "We've even got a bath tub to remove, and I don't know what to do with it."

Don't worry, Barnhorst doesn't expect volunteers to be responsible for the larger items that need removal - like a bath tub. She said there will be three barges working to help assist with transporting items like these. But for anyone else who wants to volunteer for clean up, they'll receive a trash bag and the association's blessing to fill the bag with garbage from the lake and to take it to one of 13 drop off locations.

In Gwinnett County, the drop off point will be Waterfront Lanier Harbor Marina off Buford Dam Road. In return for a full bag of trash - mostly boaters trash Barnhorst said - volunteers will receive a free shirt. For participating scouts, they'll receive a free "Shore Sweep 2008" patch.

Barnhorst said because of the ongoing drought and because the lake is still much below its full pool level, volunteers should use extreme caution when picking up items near the water. She said safety is always an issue because garbage can include glass bottles and rusted items that can cut through skin.

"There are lots of steep dropoffs, and in some places the sand is almost like quicksand," she said. "If you're not a swimmer, please don't go in the water and please wear a personal flotation device."

The 20th annual Lake Lanier Shore Sweep will take place Saturday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Visit www.lakelanier.org and the link for the shore sweep event to receive more information. Or call 770-503-7757.