Rivers Alive is Georgia's annual volunteer waterway cleanup event and it targets all waterways in the State including streams, rivers, lakes, beaches, and wetlands. The mission of Rivers Alive is to create awareness of and involvement in the preservation of Georgia's water resources. Rivers Alive is held annually each fall and is a program of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Georgia has 70,150 miles of streams and rivers and these waterways are an important resource providing us with fresh drinking water, recreational opportunities like canoeing and fishing, and serving as a pleasant respite from our busy day to day lives. More than 280 Rivers Alive events were held in 2013 engaging more than 27,000 volunteers statewide.
Crisp County is a great example of a community with a successful Rivers Alive program. Keep Crisp Beautiful has organized the area cleanup since the first statewide event more than fourteen years ago. Last year’s Crisp County Rivers Alive event was held on October 5th at three locations The Blue Hole, the Hospital Park and the Crisp Recreational Holding Pond. Keep Crisp Beautiful brought together a variety of community partners to help with the planning and execution of the program including: Crisp County 4-H, Keep Crisp Beautiful Board, Cordele-Crisp Chamber of Commerce, Pulaski County 4-H, Boy Scouts Troop 410, South Georgia Technical College and Crisp County High School Band Boosters.
On the day of the event, 100 volunteers cleaned 7 miles of waterway collecting 3225 pounds of trash. Keep Crisp Beautiful went the extra mile, not just cleaning up but also recycling much of what they found including fishing line, aluminum cans, shrink wrap and cardboard. They also use the cleanup as an opportunity to educate the community about litter; often asking new volunteers that are smokers to focus on cleaning up cigarette butts or talking to volunteers about the dangers of fishing line entanglement. Catherine Harrell, Executive Director of Keep Crisp Beautiful sums up their experience this way, “We look forward to doing this event every year and continue to be a part of Rivers Alive, so that we can educate our community and youth on the positive impact they can have on water quality. Our decisions make an impact, not just on us but on animal habitat and on future generations. When you look at the litter you throw out and realize that it could harm a small child or kill an animal WHY would you make that choice? It isn’t just about us, and we work to help our volunteers and community understand that.”
Anyone can host a Rivers Alive event in their community by registering their cleanup at www.RiversAlive.com.