Community volunteers collected approximately 32,500 pounds (16 tons) of debris as part of a modified version of Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake (TPISML) cleanup days, according to the final 2021 collection report released today.
John Rupnik, one of the event’s organizers, said the amount collected throughout the month of May fell short of 2019’s numbers. TPISML was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
“The lingering pandemic definitely played a role in the reduction of debris collected this year, but we’re still extremely happy about the progress made toward cleaning up SML prior to the opening of the season,” said Rupnik, president of the Smith Mountain Lake Association (SMLA), which organizes the program in collaboration with the Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission (TLAC) and the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce (SMLRCC).
Due to pandemic restrictions, the TPISML committee relied on communities and homeowners/property owners’ associations to clean up their coves, along the shoreline, on the water or both. Neighborhood groups, businesses, civic organizations, families and individuals were also encouraged to join the effort by joining these groups or by planning their own clean-up events anytime in May. Supplies were provided, as were several commercial dumpsters.
“We’re hoping to return to a hybrid model for Take Pride next year,” said Paula Shoffner, Executive Director of TLAC. “That will allow the committee to once again plan structured events at various marinas around the lake the first three weekends of May, in addition to the individual group efforts.”
According to the report, 166 individuals collectively covered more than 48 miles of shoreline, filling 190 trash bags and hauling off a vast number of loose debris. Items collected included plastic and glass bottles, beverage cans, plastic bags, tires, and food wrappers and containers. Some of the more unusual items collected this year were a paddle boat, a toilet seat and lumber with carpet attached, Shoffner said.
“Our annual cleanup days are so important to the overall health, beauty and safety of Smith Mountain Lake,” she said. “We can’t thank our volunteers and sponsors enough for stepping up to support Take Pride in SML.”
Sponsors for 2021’s Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake initiative included American Electric Power, Western Virginia Water Authority, Berkshire Hathaway Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate, Capps Home Building Center, Turner’s Dock Building, and The Windward Waterfront Lots and Custom Homes.