Group family picnic lunch at Great Lake Allatoona Clean Up

NPLD Event Spotlight: The Great Lake Allatoona Clean Up

Located 30 miles north of Atlanta, Georgia, Lake Allatoona covers 12,000 acres and boasts 270 miles of shoreline. It is home to nine city and county parks and one state park. Managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the lake draws an average of 9 million visitors a year from three surrounding counties and beyond. These outdoor enthusiasts enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, biking, camping, and more. With all the lake has to offer, it is no wonder volunteers turn out in droves to give back to this special place.

Each year, the Lake Allatoona Association (LAA) and its partners organize the Great Lake Allatoona Cleanup (GLAC). This National Public Lands Day event typically draws more than 3,000 volunteers, who spend the morning cleaning up litter and debris from the shoreline. Volunteers, who sign up to participate at one of 42 sites around the lake, also head out in boats to gather hard-to-reach trash. For those who want to roll out of bed and get to work, free camping is available throughout the park the night before the event (advanced registration is required).

After a morning of hard work, volunteers are rewarded for their efforts with a picnic celebration featuring live music, games—and a chance to learn more about the surrounding ecosystem.

Family activities at Great Lake Allatoona Clean Up

“The picnic usually draws 900 to 1,300 participants. This is a big—and captive—audience. We added an environmental education expo to the event as an opportunity to reach out and teach people who use the lake what they can do to preserve the area and keep it healthy,” explains Carole Miller, an LAA volunteer who helps organize the event each year.

LAA recruits local science classes to participate in the event. High school students lead sessions on topics such as water quality, soil erosion, wildlife protection, and local species, including the more than 45 types of fish found in the lake. A presentation on the impact of bats on the environment, several lessons on water safety, and a tutorial on rain barrels led by the University of Georgia Extension Center are also in the works for this year’s event. While a majority of the programming is geared toward young Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts (ages 6 to 12), participants of all ages join in, including several local college students.

The event takes the all-volunteer planning committee—which includes representatives from LAA as well as Keep Bartow Beautiful, Pettit Environmental Preserve, and Wildlife Action of Georgia, among others—nine months to organize. All that hard work makes it possible for area residents to step up and take an active role in caring about this area that offers much in return.

“This lake is used for hydro power. It’s a water supply for three counties. And it draws in millions of tourism-related dollars each year. The lake also drives up surrounding property values,” says Miller, explaining why it’s important to get involved in this National Public Lands Day event. “Taking care of the area and keeping it clean promotes all these things while ensuring the wildlife are safe and healthy.”

If you’ll be in the area on September 30 and are ready to join the fun, take a moment to register as a Great Lake Allatoona Clean Up volunteer or click here to learn more about the site.

Family enjoying activities at Great Lake Allatoona Clean Up