From left, Pam Alford, Lori Smith, Vicki Gardner, Andie Gibson and Paula Shoffner, members of the Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake oversight committee, prepare to register volunteers at the SML Business Expo on May 4 at the YMCA at LakeWatch Plantation. More than 50 people signed up at the Expo, receiving a free T-shirt, work gloves, heavy duty orange trash bags, a grocery tote and a ticket to a celebratory dinner at Mango’s Bar & Grill.
Lou Feldvary and Steven Small take a break from Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake cleanup efforts on May 5 at Westlake Waterfront Inn at Indian Point Marina. The two are volunteers with Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire/Rescue, which is coordinating debris pickup from docks of those not able to dispose of it themselves. Details on the program are available at takepridesml.com or by calling TLAC at 540-721-4400.
Smith Mountain Striper Club members help unload bags filled with debris collected on May 5 at Westlake Waterfront Inn at Indian Point Marina as part of Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake. The cleanup events are organized each year by the Smith Mountain Lake Association, Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission and Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce.
A skid steer loader operated by Take Pride in SML committee member Joe Long pulls up to be loaded with debris collected by members of Smith Mountain Striper Club and Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire/Rescue on May 5. More than a dozen volunteers took part in the cleanup event at Westlake Waterfront at Indian Point Marina.
Volunteers at Crazy Horse Marina unload from a boat debris collected on the water May 5 as part of Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake. The event’s signature orange bags, along with work gloves and a T-shirt, are available for free to all registered volunteers, including homeowners who clean up around their own shoreline. Download a signup form at takepridesml.com.
Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake will celebrate its 30th year of helping to keep SML beautiful with a season-long cleanup initiative beginning May 6.
“Last year, we successfully transitioned from a one-day event to an opportunity for residents and visitors to choose any day during the summer season to clean up the shoreline, lake or both, “ said Vicki Gardner, Executive Director of the SML Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“The feedback was positive. Participants appreciated being able to choose a day that worked best for their particular group or neighborhood, as opposed to being locked into a specific day,” Gardner said. “It also allowed for easy rescheduling if the weather didn’t cooperate. Participants were enthusiastic and collected nearly 13 tons of debris, which we’re absolutely thrilled about.”
This year, Take Pride in SML will take place between May 6 and Sept. 4. Participants – which can be individuals, families, neighbors, subdivisions, organizations and vacationers – are encouraged to register by June 30.
Beginning two weeks prior to a group’s registered event, a representative may pick up the supplies on Tuesday or Friday at the SMLA office (lower level of The Plaza, 400 Scruggs Road, Suite 200, Moneta). Following the event, each group will provide a trash collection report. That data will be compiled with details released in September.
Said SMLA President Lorie Smith, “Advocating for a safe and healthy lake environment is the SMLA’s primary mission, and that requires continuous effort by all who use the lake. Take Pride is an amazing SML tradition that contributes to this important goal, and we’re confident this 30th anniversary initiative will be the best yet.”
TPISML will continue to offer reimbursement of a limited number of dumpster and landfill fees (up to $400) to assist large, on-the-water group cleanup events. Businesses, including marinas, may also apply for dumpster/landfill reimbursement fees through the program. Guidelines are included on the form.
Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake will promote events all summer long via social media with participants encouraged to post photos of their cleanup efforts on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TakePrideSML.
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.”
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.
“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.”