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More than 400 pitch in to Make a Difference
Rivers Alive spruces up waterways
Cadets with the Youth Challenge program eat lunch Saturday after spending the morning cleaning Liberty County waterways. - photo by Photo by Lauren Hunsberger
It’s no secret that coastal communities have a history of drawing residents who harbor a profound respect and fondness for the marshes, rivers and beaches that surround them. And Liberty County’s water-loving residents are no different.
On Saturday, about 260 volunteers armed with large trash bags and litter grabbers took to the region’s waterways. As part of the statewide Rivers Alive clean-up campaign, they worked for hours to clean and protect nearby tributaries.  
Sara Swida, director of Keep Liberty County Beautiful, said she was happy with the number of people who came out to help clean. In addition to other cleanup events  and “Make A Difference Day” activities going on this weekend, she estimated they had more than 400 volunteers.
“I think people realize water is a huge part of our lives here,” Swida said. “Water quality affects all of us.”
With over a dozen locations that covered over 20 miles of roadways, canals, and waterways, several different groups including Boy Scout troop 461, about 40 soldiers from Fort Stewart and just over 90 cadets from the Youth Challenge Academy all pitched in.
Leah Poole, also with Keep Liberty County Beautiful, said the cadets often volunteer for a range of similar community events and have participated in this event before (this is the 4th Rivers Alive cleanup for Liberty County). She also said it’s a good learning experience for them because as a sub-population, men aged 18-35 are the biggest contributors of litter.
“It’s a good chance to target that group,” Poole said.
While the focus was on keeping major local waterways clean, Swida said many of the groups spent time cleaning up the side of the roads because that trash often makes its way to the many smaller estuaries and streams, all of which eventually filter into the large bodies of water.
“All of the tributaries flow into our rivers and even oceans,” Swida said.
She said the roadways are also one of their main focuses because they see the majority of the litter.
“Over half of all the litter is not being thrown out. It comes out of the back of trucks or flies out people’s windows,” Swida said of her efforts to raise awareness about how important it is to secure carloads. “If we could just do that, we could reduce the amount of litter by at least 50 percent.”
Phyllis Tucker with SNF Chemtall was also on site as one the event sponsors.
“Keeping the water clean is big priority of ours,” she said.
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