Revamped Take Pride in SML program nets nearly 13 tons of debris

Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake facilitated the collection of approximately 25,700 pounds of trash in 2016, according to the final collection report released today.

“We’re absolutely thrilled with the results,” said Pam Collins, Executive Director of the Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission, which organizes the program in collaboration with the Smith Mountain Lake Association and the SML Regional Chamber of Commerce.

After 28 years as a one-day event, the program’s format was changed this year to a season-long initiative.

“We put quite a bit of effort into educating the SML community on how they could choose any day throughout the season to clean up the lake as a group or an individual, and it really paid off,” said Pete Lewis, president of SMLA. “The feedback we received was very positive, and the numbers speak for themselves.”

Walnut Run Take Pride in SML event
Walnut Run neighborhood volunteers gather for a photo following their Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake cleanup event on May 14. Photo courtesy of Brent Reus.

Between May 7 and Sept. 5, a total of 172 people participated in 17 official Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake events. Of those, 13 groups returned official trash collection reports to the TLAC office. Based on an average of 50 pounds of trash per bag, plus the breakdowns from residents of additional items that were not bagged, Collins said approximately 25,710 pounds (12.86 tons) of debris were collected.

“The report showed approximately 45 of Smith Mountain Lake’s 500 miles of shoreline were covered,” said Vicki Gardner, the chamber’s executive director. “That just shows we have a community that genuinely cares about the quality of our lake. I think it will continue to get better every year as people get more comfortable with the idea they can pick any day in the season that suits their schedule to participate.”

Debris collected included more than 542 plastic bottles, 95 glass bottles, 177 beverage cans, 59 plastic pages and 73 food wrappers or containers.

“In general, people felt good about being able to help,” said Brent Reus, who organized a Take Pride event on May 14 with approximately 40 of his neighbors in the community of Walnut Run. They worked to collect approximately four tons of debris and then enjoyed a cookout, a tradition he said dates back about 15 years.

Walnut Run took advantage of a new program that allowed them to rent a dumpster and apply for reimbursement from Take Pride in SML organizers.

“Having the dumpster at our [neighborhood] marina really made it convenient,” Reus said. “It was a big help.”

Gardner added, “Take Pride is one of the most treasured community service projects we have at Smith Mountain Lake and it’s always heartwarming to see so many people come together to make it a success. With this being the 50th anniversary of the lake, it means even more to see so many individuals, families, neighbors, subdivisions, organizations and vacationers rallying around the idea that keeping the lake clean requires continuous effort by all who use it.”

Read the 2016 Take Pride in SML Final Report.

For more information, contact TLAC (540-721-4400) or the SML Regional Chamber of Commerce (540-721-1203).

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