Make It Shine 2016

Photo by Michelle Tabor, 2016
It's the first Saturday in April, and do you know what that means? It's clean up time! Sing it with me!

"Clean up clean up everybody everywhere. 

Clean up clean up everybody do your share."

The annual "Make It Shine" spring clean up at Beech Fork State Park event is part of the statewide WV Make it Shine program. This is my first year volunteering for this. I blame my growing love of state parks and my desire to have beautiful, clean, and healthy public lands to enjoy.

The WV Make It Shine Program is a comprehensive program aimed at making WV the cleanest state in the nation. Throughout the state, groups of volunteers, businesses, community organizations and local governments are working to accomplish this goal. The Make it Shine program is a subprogram of the Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan, a subdivision of the WVEPA (government, eh?).  

Photo by Michelle Tabor, 2016
Over one hundred individual volunteers and four scout troops joined in at a bright and early 8AM, armed with green trash bags, gardening gloves, and a go get'em attitude. We were separated into 10 different groups, all assigned a different area of the park. Each group's goal was to pick up litter, clean fallen brush, and remove objects found in the lake bed. Since, Beech Fork Lake is a flood control lake controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, it is drained and mostly dry enough to walk across over winter and spring.

Photo by Michelle Tabor, 2016
We worked a tireless eight hours to remove as much trash, litter, and debris as possible, with a park provided lunch in the middle. If you ever come out and the park feeds you, make sure to thank those lovely ladies. They are campground hosts, who don't get paid a cent to take care of the park, clean bathrooms, cook special event dinners, and answer weird camping questions at 11PM, nine months out of the year.

Photo by Michelle Tabor, 2016
At the end of the day, the scout troops removed 34 tires from the river and lake. The volunteers had cleared and cleaned a 275 site campground, 2 large recreational areas, the river banks, and the lake bed. They used all of the WVEPA provided trash bags and had to improvise with others. The maintenance workers of the park will be hauling away trash bags for days after we cleaned it up. When we all finally called it a day, the roadside was dotted with piles of bags waiting to packed into a dump truck and removed.

It is disheartening to see the amount of pollution that can accumulate in one year.  The surprising amount of tires alone makes you scratch your head, but when you find an entire picnic table sunk into the middle of the lake-bed, well, I don't have an answer to how these things get there. The blatant disregard that a few have for our beautiful state and it's natural resources break my heart.  Although, I feel accomplished in what we volunteers did today, I know there will be just as much next year to do.

If you want to become involved statewide, you can find resources at the WVEPA website, and if you'd like to get involved at Beech Fork State Park, you can check their events page for announcements.

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