Tenkiller clean-up event slated for next weekend

A crew from Strayhorn Marina collected tires from Lake Tenkiller. Snake Creek is going to reuse the big tires, and the rest of them are going to Clyde's Tires in Tahlequah for disposal at no cost to the Greater Tenkiller Area Association.

TENKILLER - After being rescheduled a couple of times, Tidy Up Tenkiller is being organized for Saturday, May 30, and volunteers are being sought.

Originally set for the end of March, it was delayed by flooding at three of the four clean-up locations. At that time, Lake Tenkiller was about 18 feet above normal levels. As of May 22, the lake is 4.32 feet above normal.

The May 16 clean-up event was postponed due to thunderstorms.

"Our event was rescheduled mainly due to impending weather issues," said Gena McPhail, Tahlequah Area Chamber Of Commerce tourism director. "Safety always comes first at the lake. We would never want to put any of our volunteers in harm's way due to thunderstorms and lightning. This event is a lot of fun for everyone involved; we want it to be safe, too."

A community-led event, Tidy Up Tenkiller was organized to address the issue of trash, Styrofoam, and debris on the lake and along the shorelines.

"As you go around the lake, you see a lot of trash, Styrofoam, tires. It's an accumulation of stuff from when they built the lake clear back in the '50s," said John Ellis, Greater Tenkiller Area Association president. "I don't think there's been a concert community effort over the years. The Corps of Engineers does some, but they have a limited budget."

Ellis said this is the fourth clean-up event organized by GTAA, Lake Tenkiller Clean Up Committee, Tour Tahlequah, and area community organizations and residents.

"We've hauled off about 82,000 pounds of various trash. You name it and we find it," said Ellis. "There's a huge number of plastic bottles. I wish people would put them in their trash bags, because they end up in the lake and then wash up on the shore."

It is free to volunteer for Tidy Up Tenkiller, and participants must register to participate. Those who registered for a canceled event are asked to re-register so the count is accurate.

"We would so appreciate as many volunteers as possible. We are accepting school age children to adults. Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult," said McPhail.

Lunch is provided to all participants, as are gloves and trash bags.

Of those who register and then sign in at the Chicken Creek South Pavilion that morning, the first 50 adults will get a free logoed boat hat.

Ellis said boats are available for use that day, and volunteers can bring their own so more area can be cleaned. Lake Tenkiller has over 130 miles of shoreline.

Dumpsters will be available at Burnt Cabin Ridge, Blackgum Landing, Snake Creek campground, and Chicken Creek South boat ramp. A trailer for tire collection will be at Snake Creek.

All donations, and sponsorships supporting the lake cleanup are accepted through the GTAA Lake Tenkiller Clean Up Committee.

Get involved

For information about Tidy Up Tenkiller, visit the GTAA Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GreaterTenkillerAreaAssociation, or contact Don Nowlin at 918-457-4403 or nowlindonald@msn.com. Volunteers can register at www.laketenkiller.com.

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