Grady Co. volunteers clean up the Ochlocknee River

CAIRO, Ga. (WALB) – No one likes seeing litter along Georgia roads and rivers.

Volunteers spent their Saturday mornings preserving Georgia’s natural beauty in Grady County. It took place at the Hadley Ferry Bridge boat ramp.

The Hadley Ferry Bridge boat ramp is cleaned every year by the conservation group
The Hadley Ferry Bridge boat ramp is cleaned every year by the conservation group(WALB)

“We have some volunteers who come and help us. We get off here to pick up the garbage. Despite the cold, it was a beautiful morning,” said Julie Shutters, a volunteer.

Shutters is the Director of Implementation for Golden Triangle, a conservation and education group in South Georgia. They work with Keep Grady County Beautiful, Rivers Alive and Ochlocknee River Water Trail each year to clean up Grady County’s natural beauty.

“Sometimes we have tires. Sometimes we have pieces of furniture. I haven’t seen any this year. It all depends on whether people come here and what they dispose of,” said Margaret Tyson, Golden Triangle vice president.

Tyson said the area used to get more garbage when there was a dumpster. The wind would carry the debris into the river as far as the watershed. She credits the Grady County government with doing a good job of removing this trash and taking it elsewhere.

That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of bottle caps, beer cans, and food wrappers to pick up.

Volunteers walk along the river, picking up rubble and rubbish.
Volunteers walk along the river, picking up rubble and rubbish.(WALB)

Margaret Tyson said water levels are drastically higher during rainy periods. The water gets high enough to pick up garbage and dump it further downstream.

Some of Georgia’s youngest took the initiative to clean up our waterways. We could all take lessons from Ricardo Alicea, a Boy Scout who has spent part of his weekend helping others.

“To help animals (and) fish not get stuck in trash,” Ricardo said.

Ricardo’s mother, Christina Alicea, is proud to join her son in his initiative.

“It’s great for the next generation of kids to be able to help the environment. I’m proud of him for getting up early and wanting to get out of here,” said Christina.

Ricardo was the youngest volunteer, but there were other young people like Valerie Esquivel who joined the river cleanup.

“I haven’t really thought about it, but since we’ve been cleaning out here we’ve been able to see quite a lot of stuff. So it’s definitely necessary,” she said. “We live here in Cairo. So we definitely want to keep Cairo clean, that’s why we have a good reputation for Cairo here,” Esquivel said.

Esquivel arrived with her family on Saturday. She told me it was the least she could do for the city she grew up in.

Volunteers said bottle caps and cans were the most common items found. Tires and fishing rods also lay among the wreckage and debris.

Keep Grady County Beautiful wants to do more of these events. Not just once a year. The next will take place in spring 2023. Probably in Cairo itself.

Anyone interested in volunteering can click here for more informations.