Upstate counties fight litter issues with community ramp clean-up day

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PICKENS COUNTY, SC (WSPA)–A community lake ramp clean-up event happened near waterways in Pickens and Oconee Counties. Multiple organizations joined together to fight litter issues in the area.

“It’s really an ongoing concern. This actually started well before the pandemic. As long as these have been public ramps, people have been coming here,” said Dale Wilde, President, Friends of Lake Keowee Society (FOLKS).

FOLKS, The Keep Oconee Beautiful Association and Keep Pickens County Beautiful worked with Duke Energy for the event. The groups cleaned ramps at Fall Creek Landing, and Warpath Landing.  

“Typically what we see at these public ramps are leftover picnic items. We’re seeing beer cans, soda cans, fire pits, diapers,” Wilde said.

On Wednesday, a family with small children, took a swim in the water. They told 7-News, multiple beer bottles were found by the party. A knife was also found on shore, near the beach area.

“It’s harmful as we know because of it’s making its way into the water stream, it gets into the animals that may have digest it and also where our water source comes from, you know, it becomes toxic,” said Danielle Pankuch, Executive Director of Keep Oconee Beautiful Association.

“With that came a lot of convenient disposable items and unfortunately not disposed of properly, which led to more litter at those locations. Unfortunately everywhere, along the roadside, at the various parks, at the boat ramp areas, at the sports complexes,” she said.

The Executive Director for Keep Pickens County Beautiful, Brooke Van-Derpoel said, “With all of the plastic and everything, that can end up in the lake, it has a big impact on boating and recreation, as well. Plastic can get caught in propellers, damaging your boat. It can get caught on your anchors when you throw your anchor into the water.”

Organization leaders said they are taking a stand against litter, but the ultimate goal is to educate people about the dangers, while working to keep the areas clean and safe.

“So Pickens County is a big tourist destination with Lake Keowee, all of the trails that we have throughout the county. And when litter is present in all of these places, people won’t want to come to these areas and recreate. So if they don’t want to come, you’re losing business and small businesses, hotels, restaurants, and it can really impact the economy that way,” Van-Derpoel said.

The groups said more clean-up events are in the works for the future. Click here to learn how you can help.

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