In what Lori Morris of the Rocky Fork Lake Community Alliance called the kick off event for everything that is done throughout the year, the annual “Don’t Pass It Up, Pick It Up” litter cleanup campaign is coming up on a pair of Saturdays in the month of April.
“We’re asking the community to come out and help two days in April, the 13th and the 27th,” she said. “We’ll meet at 8 a.m. at the camp store at the campground parking lot right off of North Shore Drive as you come in to the park.”
The annual litter cleanup program at Rocky Fork Lake has been going on for 12-plus years, according to Paint Township Trustee Randy Mustard, and coincides with the observance of Earth Day on Monday, April 22.
“When we first start out, we’ll do North Shore starting at SR 124 and move up toward Beechwood, North Beach and up to Hill Road,” Mustard said. “We used to do this all four weekends in April, but this year we picked two since we’ve got the Trout Derby on the 6th, and, of course, Easter this year is on the 21st.”
He said anyone can volunteer with the cleanup effort, emphasizing that a person doesn’t have to be a resident of the Rocky Fork Lake area or even Highland County, but simply needs to show up with a mind to work on those particular Saturdays.
The faces of the volunteers range from the Highland County Probation Department’s community service workers to Boy Scouts working on merit badges to high school seniors satisfying community involvement requirements for graduation.
Morris said that a few years ago a judge sentenced a young woman to pick up trash at Rocky Fork Lake and it surprised her at the amount of trash that littered the park and up and down North Shore Drive.
“We also have some local residents who have adopted sections of roadway and they go out on a weekly basis picking up trash,” Morris said.
Like most state parks across the nation, the litter problem at Rocky Fork Lake has gotten worse over the years, with Mustard saying he would take his crew northbound on North Shore Drive with the intention of doing the southbound side the following weekend.
“It didn’t even look like we’ve been there,” he said. “And I’d really like to thank the Highland Holiday community since when we’re all through, they accept all of our trash and let us use their dumpsters.”
He said in recent years they have pulled used propane tanks and tires out of the water, in addition to every kind of trash imaginable such as plastic and glass bottles, household trash, aluminum cans and even syringes.
“We want people to know that we are doing the Don’t Pass It Up, Pick It Up campaign again this year,” Morris said. “And we need as many hands as we can get from all age groups, and lots of boots on the ground.”
Potential volunteers can call 937-402-0075 can or email Angie Mustard at firstname.lastname@example.org for information and to register. Morris advised all volunteers to bring a sack lunch and snacks, and plan on picking up trash at their own pace.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.