Grady Co. volunteers clean Ochlocknee River

Grady Co. volunteers clean Ochlocknee River
Published: Nov. 19, 2022 at 9:01 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2022 at 9:42 PM EST
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CAIRO, Ga. (WALB) - No one likes seeing litter alongside Georgia’s roadways and rivers.

Volunteers spent their Saturday morning preserving Georgia’s natural beauty in Grady County. It took place at Hadley Ferry Bridge Boat Ramp.

Hadley Ferry Bridge Boat ramp gets cleaned every year by the conservation group
Hadley Ferry Bridge Boat ramp gets cleaned every year by the conservation group(WALB)

“We’ve got some volunteers to come out and help us. We get out here to pick up the trash. It’s been a beautiful morning despite the cold,” Julie Shutters, a volunteer, said.

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

“Sometimes we have tires. Sometimes we have pieces of furniture. I haven’t seen any so far this year. It all depends on people coming here and what they decide to dump,” Margaret Tyson, the VP of Golden Triangle said.

Tyson said the area used to get more litter when there was a dumpster. Wind would take the debris down to the watershed into the river. She credits the Grady County government for doing a good job taking that trash and moving it somewhere else.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t a lot of bottle caps, beer cans and food wrappers to be picked up.

Volunteers walk alongside the river picking up debris and litter.
Volunteers walk alongside the river picking up debris and litter.(WALB)

Margaret Tyson said during wet periods, the water levels are drastically higher. The water gets high enough to pick up trash and deposit it further down the river.

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 spent part of his weekend helping others.

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

Ricardo’s mom, Christina Alicea, is proud to join her son with 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 here,” Christina said.

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’re out here cleaning we can see a whole bunch of stuff. So it’s definitely needed,” she said. “We live here in Cairo. So we do definitely want to keep Cairo clean, so we have a good reputation here for Cairo,” Esquivel said.

Esquivel came with her family on Saturday. She told me it was the least she could do for the town she’s grown up in.

Volunteers said Bottle caps and cans were the most common items found. There were also tires and fishing poles amongst the debris and litter.

Keep Grady County Beautiful wants to do more of these events. Not just once a year. The next one will be in the spring of 2023. It will likely be in Cairo itself.

Anyone who wants to volunteer can click here for more information.