Hundreds of volunteers will descend onto Barren River Lake in a couple of weeks for the Annual Trashmasters Classic Lakeshore Cleanup, an effort dating back more than three decades to reduce pollution in the local water resource.
The cleanup, considered an official National Public Lands Day Event, will be from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 21.
There aren’t very many of these types of events in which people can pitch in and “physically feel like they’re making a difference in the health of the environment,” said Holly Myers, the cleanup coordinator and park ranger for the Army Corps of Engineers.
Volunteer attendance varies year to year, but there are always plenty of dedicated regulars – ”three years ago, it poured rain, and we still had over 400 volunteers,” Myers said. Youth scout troops from the region contribute about a third to half of the volunteers.
“I think the biggest impact is on the kids who come out here,” Myers said. “It gives them the opportunity to see early on how important it is to do service that does make a difference in the health of the environment. It gets them out there with the community and shows them how important it is to be active in making a difference in something they care about.”
Trash is a persistent issue in Barren River Lake. Each time a tributary flows into the reservoir, there’s usually some litter from nearby roads, businesses and populated areas in the mix. When the water recedes, the trash will be left on the shoreline.
Last year, about 300 volunteers collected about 2.3 tons of trash. The year before, about 400 volunteers collected nearly four tons of trash. Over the past three decades, nearly 60,000 volunteer hours helped remove about 285 tons of trash from the shoreline.
“You can imagine what the lake would look like if we didn’t have this event,” Myers said. “We do forget sometimes that something we throw out the window is eventually going to go into the water and eventually into the lake.”
The Friends of Barren River Lake and Park and Barren River Lake State Resort Park help coordinate the annual effort with the Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District. Candy’s Campers sponsored this year’s event.
On Sept. 21, registration will begin at 8 a.m. at Bailey’s Point, the Narrows, the state park, Port Oliver and Walnut Creek. Larger groups need to pre-register, and groups bringing volunteers under the age of 18 must contact USACE ahead of time to obtain forms that require parent or guardian signatures. To contact Myers, call 270-646-2055 or email Holly.L.Myers@usace.army.mil.
Local pontoon boat drivers will shuttle volunteers to the shoreline to pick up trash. To volunteer as a pontoon boat driver, register online at friendsofbarrenriverlake.org or contact Myers.
After the cleanup, the volunteers will gather on the state park’s beach for a picnic, music and various prizes for individuals or groups.
USACE recommends bringing sunscreen, water and life jackets. Trash bags and gloves will be provided.