Elk River Cleanup is Bittersweet for Environmental Advocates

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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Residents in Limestone County may have noticed a change for the better regarding the Elk River.

It comes thanks to the efforts of a small army of volunteers who came out to help clean up the river.

Any picturesque view of the Elk River can be breathtaking and ruined by looking down and seeing the ugly side of it.

"Anybody who is a lover of nature, all you have to do is come out here and see this beautiful river and then look down... and it ruins the entire moment," said Lynne Hart.

Hart is the Executive Coordinator of Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful.  She was excited to see an army of 45 volunteers work tirelessly to clean up the Elk River earlier this month, but was equally disappointed at what they found.

"We were thrilled to have so many, but it was very sad to see that those folks pulled 3,800 pounds of material out of the river," said Hart.

She said boaters and fishermen are not to blame for all of the trash, since it could have been thrown into the river in a different area quite a ways away.

"Things from all along the river just wash up and get trapped," said Hart. "Eventually it's going to wash into the main river, out to the Gulf and that's how we ended up with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a patch of plastic garbage in the Pacific Ocean bigger than the size of Texas and no one knows how to clean it up."

Despite that, Hart says things have actually been improving for the Elk River, but there's still a long way to go.

Her goal is to someday hold a clean-up event and come back empty-handed.

Hart said everyone can help by keeping trash in your vehicle until it can be properly thrown away, make sure lids on garbage cans are secure, and throw away any trash you may find.

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