McIntosh students help clean-up Morning Creek

Tue, 10/07/2008 - 3:39pm
By: Ben Nelms

Cleaning our waters

Saturday mornings are a good time to catch up the all kinds of chores, or maybe to go on a family outing. For others, it is a time to help clean up what others mess up. A dozen kids and adults did just that Oct. 4, combing the brush and banks of Morning Creek at Ga. Highway 314 in Fayetteville for trash that litters the area.

Affiliated with the Rivers Alive and Adopt-A-Stream programs, the clean-up event was sponsored by Environmental Institute of Georgia (EIOG) and Fayette County Engineering Department’s Stormwater Program. Nearly a dozen people took part in the clean-up, filling trash bags provided by Fayette County with debris found along Hwy. 314, in thick undergrowth on both sides of the road, under the bridge and along the banks of Morning Creek. Fayette County also provided gloves and water for the event.

The efforts to remove debris from the thick undergrowth was not a walk in the park. Those participating battled thorns, mud and tricky terrain in order to retrieve the trash that others had tossed from vehicles or left behind when fishing or walking in the area. But as far they the group of 12 was concerned, the effort was worth it.

“The environment is everyone’s burden. Everyone lives in it,” said McIntosh High School student and two-year Adopt-A-Stream participant Shawn Yavari. “A lot of people don’t try to help, but I can help. Our children and grandchildren will live in this world and we don’t need to leave a lot of garbage for them to deal with.”

Participating, as usual, with the McIntosh students was teacher and Adopt-A-Stream leader Mike DeLise, who has run the McIntosh program for the past six years. DeLise said approximately 125 McIntosh students have gone through the program, with 40 attending this year. About one-third of the group is replaced each year, he said. In 2005 the McIntosh program received the Best in Data Collection Award from Georgia Environmental Protection Division, followed by the Best Watershed Volunteer Group in Georgia in 2007.

McIntosh Adopt-A-Stream students participate in three work days each year. One of those days, like Oct. 4, is a Rivers Alive event. Other work days include the Earth Day event and a door-to-door awareness campaign at 2,200 homes in the vicinity of Lake Peachtree and Lake Kedron in Peachtree City. The McIntosh students participating in the clean-up included Shawn Yavari, Shauna Robertson, Katie Roscelli and Rachel White.

Also participating at the Morning Creek clean-up was Counterpane Montessori School fourth-grader Sarah Walker and her father Paul. A resident of the Cannongate area of northeast Coweta County, 9-year-old Sarah is a believer in protecting her environment.

“We’ve got to help the environment. It’s our home. We can’t move anywhere else,” said the articulate student who had just finished helping her father pick up trash under the Morning Creek bridge on Hwy. 314. “We go to Line Creek to take our dogs to walk and we always pick up trash. It makes me angry when people throw stuff on the ground.”

Sarah said her school created a recycling bin and teaches students about environmental awareness. Both are projects of which the astute fourth-grader approves. Speaking back at Heritage Park in Fayetteville after the clean-up, Sarah posited a question that has been the object of research for decades. The issue involves the way people perceive objects and their response to that perception when the object is one that is out of place.

“It’s like they don’t see the trash,” Sarah said.

Along with DeLise and Fayette County representatives Nancy Howard and Vanessa Birrell, the event was organized by EIOG board members and community activists Connie Biemiller and Dennis Chase.

“Activities like today’s are part of a statewide educational program to show people the volume of trash that’s getting into our waterways,” Chase said. “The amount of garbage people throw out is obscene. This type of event is environmentally significant, protects wildlife and protects human health.”

And it is a facet of the protection of human health that might escape the conscious awareness of many. Chase noted that one of the most important aspects of the Oct. 4 clean-up was that it eliminated a portion of the breeding ground for the Asian Tiger mosquito that carries West Nile virus. The mosquito lays its eggs in water-filled containers and old tires.

“Today I dumped 50-60 containers with mosquito larvae in them,” Chase said.

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