High Rock Lake CleanSweep
What is a CleanSweep and what does it mean for the community?
The annual High Rock Lake CleanSweep [@HRLCleanSweep] is set for Saturday September 17th.
This is the only lake event that ties in both counties, Davidson, and Rowan, for a unified collaborative for the benefit of the region.
High Rock Lake is the second largest lake in North Carolina, with more than 300 miles of shoreline; the lake feeds into Badin and Tillery, respectively. The High Rock dam catches most of the larger debris which could remain in High Rock Lake. But there needs to be more of a community effort to remove random debris floating on the lake, from footballs and beverage cans to flip flops and even pieces of docks. High Rock Lake is situated between Davidson and Rowan Counties and provides recreation opportunities for residents and visitors alike, adding to the economy of more than a dozen municipalities.
WHY A CLEAN SWEEP AND HOW DID IT START?
A few years ago, Shane Graham and Barry Childers who both grew up on the lake wanted to revive the lake clean sweep from their youth, a community effort that was held annually. The two men now local business owners on their respective ‘side’ of the lake, have personal experience with items floating along the shoreline and ending up in desolate coves or homeowners’ properties.
“With a such a beautiful natural resource in our literal backyards it is imperative that we rally all the stakeholders to make sure it’s here for generations to come,” said Graham, president of the HRLCleansweep Committee.
The High Rock Lake CleanSweep committee board members are volunteer leaders Shane Graham, Childers, Jeff Swing, AnnMarie Clark, Karen Baldwin, Edgar Miller, and Joyce Caron-Mercier. With two clean-up/collection access points on the lake, volunteers can access either N.C. Wildlife Access ramp location for supplies and drop off at the end of the day at Bringle Ferry Road, Salisbury or Hwy. 8, Southmont. The event will be September 17th from 9 AM – 3 PM.
IT TAKES A COMMUNITY
Homeowner associations, 41 boy scouts, dozens of individual homeowners and even a few families who do not live on the lake but have been enjoying it for years; have all come out in the past to the wildlife access ramp to receive supplies and identify the location that they preferred to work. And no matter the connection to the lake, all of us had one thing in common, an appreciation for our natural resource and the desire to keep our recreational gem sitting between Rowan and Davidson Counties – CLEAN and safe.
Organizations not only assist with the cleanup, but students are able to receive service hour credits. One such group is the American Heritage Girls [AHG]. This group is a Christ-centered character and leadership development program for girls 5 to 18 years of age. AHG is a dedicated to the mission of building women of integrity through service of God, family community and country. This Kannapolis based group is led by Jessica Agustin.
To register and inquire about service hours for your group, please reach out via email to info@HRLcleansweep.org Students will walk away with a signed certificate with the number of hours they participated.
Last year’s results from our army of ‘clean sweepers’ was impressive: 4,560 pounds of trash hauled into the Rowan County provided dumpsters and 3,040 pounds from the Davidson side into Best Disposal dumpsters. Someone asked why we had a competition going between the two counties on who has the most trash. Well, it is not for bragging rights that’s for sure, but it does us proud knowing that whatever we throw into the dumpsters is no longer in our lake that can be picked up by children, eaten by our pets or driven over while boating. It is also motivating to our volunteers who enjoy the friendly competition!
“We can’t do this alone, it takes hours of volunteer time from our board members months in advance to get the permitting in order, request sponsorships and engage our County leaders. Again, this year, Cube Hydro/Eagle Creek Renewable Energy is our premier sponsor. The folks at Cube Hydro Carolinas understand how vital High Rock Lake is in the Yadkin-Pee Dee River Basin,” shared Graham.
“With our ramped up initiative to make a larger impact, we decided to engage Lexington’s Media Placement Services, an agency that came to us with ideas on how to amplify our event through social media, banner ads, a new website http://www.hrlcleansweep.org and email for inquiries, firstname.lastname@example.org,” continued Graham.
“We are pleased that through our effort, new sponsors have joined and include Toni Wooten-Wright, Keller Williams Real Estate. Our returning sponsors joining Cube Hydro are Childress Marine Construction, Cozart Lumber, Domino’s, Lexington BBQ, Swing Insurance, Safeco Insurance, Uwharrie Real Estate, Yadkin River Keeper, High Rock Lake Association, and Best Disposal, Lexington. Sponsors are needed to underwrite the expenses of the year-round initiative. We would love more volunteers, as more hands mean less trash in our lake,” said Graham. “We have been planning this September 17th event since the day after last year’s CleanSweep.”
The video highlight from last year’s HRLCleanSweep https://www.hrlcleansweep.org/
Local government agencies such as Rowan County, Keep Davidson County Beautiful, and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission also support the event.
“We do this for several reasons, the obvious is eradicating the ‘stuff’ that is floating on the lake, gathered around trees and bushes on the shoreline and our ‘front yards.’ As a Rowan County Business owner that makes his living from the lake, the end result is the same – a clean and safe recreational body of water that is an inviting place for fishmen who want to spend their day and money here, regardless of side of the lake,” said Childers, vice president of the committee.
What that means is economic impact for family-owned bait shops Hills Minnow Farm and Tamarac Marina on Bringle Ferry Road, restaurants Lakeview Family Restaurant and Waters Edge Dock and Grill, and retailers in downtown Salisbury, like Backcountry and Beyond that offer recreational items from kayaks and sunglasses to stand up paddle boards and sun shirts. Your Rowan’s neighbor across the lake has Mimi’s Bait and Tackle in Lexington, and Rock Outdoors also on highway 8 offers lake supplies from life jackets to pontoon and fishing boats.
CLEAN RIVERS MAKE FOR CLEANER LAKES
The cleanup effort for our lakes and rivers is a year-round campaign,” said Edgar Miller, executive director of Yadkin Riverkeeper. “We have several events throughout the year including bridge and river clean ups on Earth Day in April, Rowan Creek Week, among others. All to keep our lakes and the river trash free.”
The Yadkin Riverkeeper organizes a group of kayakers to paddle into the various coves on the Davidson County side for additional access onto smaller areas that may hold debris.
AND THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING … ROWAN COUNTY CREEK WEEK SCHEDULED
Creek Week is a week-long celebration of local waters throughout North Carolina and kicks off in conjunction with HRLCleanSweep this year. The Fourth Annual Rowan Creek Week will take place September 17-24, 2022. In collaboration with multiple environmental organizations and local municipal departments, Creek Week offers recreational, educational, and volunteer opportunities to allow everyone to enjoy and contribute to healthy waters in our area. Kelli Isenhour with Rowan County has taken this initiative into the classroom, “We want our next generation to appreciate the natural resources that we have in our backyard from Dan Nicholas Park to the Spencer Trading Ford and High Rock Lake.” To receive updates on RoCo Creek Week, follow them on Facebook and Instagram (@rowancreekweek).
I hope to see you all out on the lake! From a distance…and without anything flying off your boat into the lake.
I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in the coming months. Please email me at highrock@YourRowan.com
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