‘Ikes’ clean up swamp

Published 9:49 pm Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Cleanup: Members of the Suffolk-Nansemond chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America show off the fruits of their labor after a cleanup at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday. The volunteers cleaned up a dump site near Jericho Lane, collecting more than two tons of trash.

A group of local volunteers spent Saturday pulling more than two tons of trash from the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Suffolk.

The volunteers from the Suffolk-Nansemond chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America collected 90 tires, four televisions, a toilet, a mattress, 26 bags of trash and 17 bags of recyclables from the Jericho Lane area.

“Over the years, before the refuge was established, people saw Jericho Lane as a dump site,” refuge manager Chris Lowie said. “Last year, the Ikes got much of it, and this year, they came back for the rest. There was just too much to get all at once.

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Several hundred pounds of scrap metal and aluminum were recycled at Sims Metal on Hosier Road.

“The folks at Sims were great to work with,” said Mike Lane, event organizer. “Though our pickup load of scrap was a drop in the bucket compared to the volume they move, they treated us with the patience and courtesy that a regular or long-time customer might expect.”

The city of Suffolk pitched in, too, providing gloves, trash bags and other supplies for the neighborhood cleanup event as part of a city program to “Keep Suffolk Beautiful.”

Since last year’s cleanup event, the refuge has installed an electric gate that closes at sunset, helping reduce the rubbish problem.

Law enforcement officers also are keeping a close eye on the area.

“If someone leaves trash on the refuge, they may see me at their front door,” said Refuge Officer John Ross.

Lowie hopes the regular cleanups will discourage litterbugs from leaving their trash there.

“When trash accumulates in an area, it encourages further dumping,” Lowie said. “Hopefully, people won’t see this as a garbage pit anymore. We really appreciate the hard work of the Ikes and the partnership with the city of Suffolk.”

For more information about the refuge, call 986-3705 Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.