Volunteers clean up swamp

Published 7:54 pm Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Four toilets, dozens of tires, some batteries and televisions were among about 1.35 tons of trash cleaned up from the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge last week.

Volunteers from the local chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, along with city staff and refuge employees, cleaned up a dump site near the Jericho Lane entrance on the refuge on March 20.

The crew collected 1.35 tons of trash, which included 58 tires, four old toilets and 14 bags of trash. In addition, several batteries and televisions containing toxic chemicals were collected.

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Hattie Lester, the city’s litter control coordinator, provided gloves, trash bags and pickup sticks for the effort.

Chris Lowie, refuge manager, said he plans to install an electric gate at the entrance to prevent after-hours access, which he hopes will cut down on the trash.

“We appreciate the help of the Ikes,” Lowie said, using the nickname of Izaak Walton League members. “They and others led the charge to establish the refuge in the 1970s, and they’ve been important partners ever since.”

Lowie said refuge employees try to track down where the trash comes from, and they go after the offenders if they can determine whom they are. However, it doesn’t always work.

“When we see fresh trash, we try to figure out where it came from,” he said.

To find out how to volunteer at the refuge, call 986-3705.