5Ws+1H: What It's About: Tidy Up Tenkiller needs volunteers this weekend

Through Tidy Up Tenkiller, the Greater Tenkiller Area Association and its partners have collected more than 66 tons of trash from Lake Tenkiller.

Lake Tenkiller is considered one of the most scenic bodies of water in the state, but the Greater Tenkiller Area Association needs volunteers to keep it that way.

The Tidy Up Tenkiller project started a couple years ago to help sustain the lake’s natural beauty, but with around 130 miles of shoreline, work is still needed to be done. The GTAA and area partners are hosting another Tidy Up event this Saturday, Sept. 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Gena McPhail, director of tourism for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, said the event is a good opportunity for groups needing community service hours – fraternities, scout groups and others. But all who care about the lake are welcome to participate.

“We definitely need volunteers,” McPhail said. “We need people with boats and also people who are on land, so we need both. Anything they feel comfortable doing, whether it’s walking just picking up trash or picking up trash along the shoreline via boat, we have something for everybody.”

The clean-up event will be held at the Chicken Creek campgrounds. This will also be the first time volunteers clean waste from under the surface. Anyone who is a certified diver can help with that effort.

Over the past five events, volunteers have helped collect 66 tons of trash. While the Army Corps of Engineers no longer allows Styrofoam to be used in construction of floating docks, older marinas have been damaged in recent years, causing the material to be left in the lake.

“It’s primarily collected from Styrofoam that has been washed ashore from the tornadoes and the flooding,” McPhail said. “Once the water recedes, those big pieces of Styrofoam just stay up in the trees and the shoreline.”

It wasn’t long ago that Chicken Creek was hit by a tornado, spreading debris throughout the area. McPhail said tin and aluminum ripped from various structures can still be found in the campground’s trees.

Those under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult or group leader. Gloves, trash bags and safety gear will be provided as needed, as well as lunch. Boat will be available for those who do not want to use their own. The one-day event only lasts five hours, and McPhail said it’s all for a good cause.

“We’re missing about 33 people from what we normally have. Someone should volunteer to help just because the lake is beautiful and we want it to remain a pristine, clean lake,” she said.

To register for Tidy Up Tenkiller, visit www.laketenkiller.com. For more information, call Kenyatta Wright at 918-207-2585, or email kw@tenkillerarea.com. All donations and sponsorships supporting the lake clean up are welcome through the GTAA Clean Up Committee.

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