Volunteers clean the Kinchafoonee Creek after visitors leave hundreds of beer cans

Trash left behind on the Kinchafoonee Creek

LEE COUNTY, Ga. (WALB) - Volunteers are cleaning up hundreds of beer cans and trash dumped on the Kinchafoonee Creek over the weekend.

Lee County Code Enforcement Officers said there were more people on the creek than usual, and they left an unwelcome mess.

Of course, everyone wants to have fun on the Kinchafoonee this summer. But Lee County Code Enforcement Officers said if they see you throw any trash into the creek or the surrounding area, they will not hesitate to give you a citation.

The life jacket loan station at Sutton's Landing.
The life jacket loan station at Sutton's Landing. (Source: WALB)

A beautiful day on the water can quickly become ruined when your paddling through beer cans, Styrofoam cups, and trash.

“We’re all about people out on the creeks and the rivers, and enjoy themselves,” said David Dixon, a Flint RiverKeeper board member.

David Dixon, a Flint River Keeper Board Member.
David Dixon, a Flint River Keeper Board Member. (Source: WALB)

People having a good time on the Kinchafoonee is exactly what supporters and law enforcement want. What Lee County Rivers Alive and Flint River Keeper Volunteers have a problem with is the amount of trash creek visitors are leaving behind. Especially after Rivers Alive just held a cleanup event.

“Pack your trash out and be respectful of other people who are out here,” said Dixon.

When trash fills the creek, it’s not just an issue of aesthetics. Randy James with the Lee County Marshal’s Office said it becomes a dangerous issue that puts the lives of animals at risk.

Randy James, with the Lee County Marshall's Office.
Randy James, with the Lee County Marshall's Office. (Source: WALB)

“You know, if their habitat is damaged by humans, by leaving trash and litter, the animals could die,” said James.

Years ago, the Sandy Beach kayak slip was closed because of issues like this. Officers with code enforcement and the sheriff’s office are going to increase their patrols, working to catch any trash throwers, so Sutton’s Landing won’t be the next to close. Volunteers are doing their best to protect the Creek.

“They come out here. They had a couple of contractor style trash bags and garbage pickers. They put on at 3:30 yesterday and started picking up,” James said.

So if you do want to avoid those fines, or potential community service hours, officers say you might as well take your trash to the trash can where it belongs, and keep it out of the creek.

Another issue at the creek:

Lee County Rivers Alive may not be able to loan out life jackets anymore, because people are using them on the creeks, but they aren’t returning them when they’re done.

When it comes to water safety, Lee County Code Enforcement Officers said it’s as simple as putting on a life jacket and buttoning it up. But because of one ongoing issue, they may not be able to loan out these life-saving devices for much longer.

Rivers Alive needs life jackets

Lee County Rivers Alive has life jacket loan stations at the loading zones along the Kinchafoonee Creek, like the one at Sutton’s Landing.

More than 30 life vests have been taken and have not been returned.

Some just forget to take them off and hang them back up before they leave. But if this keeps happening, there won't be any life jackets left.

“You know, they’re for the citizens, there for their safety. And if they keep stealing them, we have to keep replacing them, and one day, our resources may run out and then we won’t have any,” said James.

It is illegal for anyone under the age of 13 to be on the water without a life jacket on.

The life jackets they have are all donated from Boater's World and community members.

If you’d like to donate any life jackets, all you need to do is a take a marker and write who donated it on the preserver. You can leave them at Sutton’s Landing or at the Code Enforcement Office.

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