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Third Annual ‘Watauga Lake Cleanup’ Set for June 30

Participants at last year's second annual Watauga Like Cleanup.

May 15, 2012. BUTLER, Tenn. — Fourth of July at Watauga Lake, like many lakes across the region, is peak-time. Thousands of boaters will hit the lake’s familiar cold waters as they do every year, reveling in a tradition that spans generations for some enthusiastic lake families who make the annual pilgrimage. For a third year, the Watauga Lake community is putting it’s best foot forward just in time for the holiday. 

Our Community Gives Back, an organization of people who live on and/or use Watauga Lake, has organized the Annual Watauga Lake Cleanup since 2010. The first year, approximately 200 people pitched into the effort. The bar was raised during the second year when 260 showed up. On June 30, 2012, organizers hope to do it again. According to Mary Salter, president of Our Community Gives Back, the work is hard but finding volunteers is just the opposite. 

“There’s a strong sense of community to be found on Watauga Lake,” said Salter. “To some it’s home, and to others it’s their home away from home, and to us all it’s a place of beauty and source of pride. We want to make sure others who find their way to this lake see that and that’s why this cleanup is so important.”

The group will end its day’s work at Fish Springs Marina for an after-cleanup celebration of food, games and music by five-piece band “True Grass.” Marina owner Thomas White sponsors the cleanup each year.

“It’s important to me as a boater, and as business owner that depends on the tourism Watauga Lake provides,” said White. “I’m excited every year to see so much support from the lake community.”

Participants at last year's second annual Watauga Like Cleanup.

Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. at Little Milligan Boat Launch, located at Hwy. 321 & Moody Road (new Johnson County location) and Fish Springs Marina, located at 191 Fish Springs Road; Hampton, Tenn. Volunteers will be given gloves and trash bags before scanning the waterways and the shoreline across the full expanse of the lake in both Johnson & Carter Counties. Once registrants return to the drop off points with trash, they will be given wristbands for admittance to an after clean-up celebration. 

Trash drop-off dumpsters will be located at Fish Springs Marina, Little Milligan Boat Launch and Sink Mountain Boat Ramp off Hwy 167 and Doe Creek Road. Trash can be dropped off at these locations from 9:00AM until 3:00PM. 

There will be a celebration party following the clean up at Fish Springs Marina beginning at 3 p.m. The Celebration Picnic is accessible from both land and water. Volunteers must have an admission wristband for the Cleanup Celebration Picnic upon delivery of trash at the drop-off locations. It is suggested that volunteers bring folding chairs to the celebration party. 

There will be food, music and prizes all donated by local and regional businesses, as well as civic-minded citizens. Door prize drawings will be held at the Celebration Picnic and you must be present to win. No one will be admitted to the Celebration Picnic without a wristband. A Door Prize Raffle Ticket will be given for each bag of trash collected.  

Watauga Lake is about five miles east of Elizabethton, Tenn. It is a TVA electric generating facility capable of producing 57,600 kilowatts. The reservoir extends 16.7 miles above the dam and provides 152,829 acre-feet of storage capacity. Construction of Watauga Lake started on February 16, 1942, but the War Production Board ordered work stopped in October because it was considered nonessential to the war effort. Construction on Watauga resumed July 22, 1946, and the dam was completed on December 1, 1948. Water levels on Watauga vary only about nine feet in normal years to provide for seasonal flood storage and for the augmentation of flows of water during other seasons. It forms a long, slender body of water extending in an easterly direction from the dam, and it has a shoreline of approximately 109 miles.

Prizes, donations and sponsorships are being accepted. For information, to volunteer or donate, contact Mary Salter 423-768-0363.