Volunteers of all ages are invited to take part in the annual Lake Cleanup at Lake Junaluska, which will be hosted on four days – February 19, 20, 26 and 27 – as part of added safety precautions for the 2021 event.
The event will be hosted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on two Fridays and two Saturdays to enable volunteers to come at different times and more easily socially distance as they pick up trash and debris along an assigned part of the lake’s shoreline.
“We are trying to make this cleanup day as safe as possible and have added extra safety precautions this year due to the risk of COVID-19,” said Jim Pearson, coordinator of the lake cleanup. “We know the event will be quite different, but we still hope many of our community members and families, and people who love Lake Junaluska will be able to join in the cleanup or help support the effort in some way.”
The challenge for this year’s cleanup organizers was to eliminate the social gathering aspect of the cleanups in past years, said Pearson. For 2021, volunteers will go directly to their assigned areas, where trash bags and litter pick-up sticks will be waiting for them. Once they are finished, all bags and pick-up sticks are simply left in the assigned area.
Another change from previous years is the registration process. Instead of waiting in line to sign up at a central location on cleanup day, preregistration will be done online at www.lakejunaluska.com/cleanup. All individuals and groups who plan to participate must register online, so Pearson can assign and prepare work sites.
Participants should dress warmly, wear a pair of gloves, and bring an extra pair of shoes in case conditions are muddy. Helpers of all ages are welcome to be part of the cleanup, but adult chaperones should accompany youth.
“Everyone must bring a mask with them and wear it when unable to socially distance themselves from other volunteers,” Pearson stressed. “We will do our best to maintain lots of space between volunteers, but wearing a mask is still going to be the best way to protect yourself.”
The event is organized by the Junaluskans, who work in conjunction with Lake Junaluska staff and in partnership with Haywood Waterways. The Junaluskans are a volunteer organization of Junaluska residents and other persons who love Lake Junaluska, and Haywood Waterways is a nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining and improving water quality in the Pigeon River Watershed of Haywood County.
Pearson said he hopes to see many community members take part.
“I encourage anyone who walks or runs at Lake Junaluska or who enjoys fishing here to come help us pick up trash, and protect and beautify this place,” said Pearson.