Rails-to-Trail cleanup

Richard Martin talks with volunteers Saturday. Event organizer Randy Malone said he was encouraged by the number of young people who participated in the trail cleanup.

What do five and a half fully grown African bush elephants, two unloaded 18-wheelers, 365 Saint Bernards and 1,216 second graders have in common? They all weigh about as much as the amount of trash that has been picked up in Limestone County across five separate events held so far in 2021.

The latest effort focused on cleaning up along the Richard Martin Trail, where it intersects two roadways in the Piney Chapel area. Around 45 volunteers helped pick up 1,460 pounds of litter this past Saturday.

“I thought we had a great event,” said Randy Malone, a concerned citizen who approached Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful for help arranging the cleanup. “They made pretty short work of it. We had several families and couples come out, and I was encouraged by the number of kids and teenagers we had.”

Malone said he was out on that stretch of the trail Tuesday morning and only found “one little scrap of trash.”

“It looks way better now,” he said. “Thanks to everybody that came out. I also want to thank (Executive Director) Leigh Patterson with KALB and county commissioners LaDon Townsend and Daryl Sammet who helped us out.”

Patterson said the amount of volunteerism that KALB has seen since January has been unbelievable. She said two of the five cleanup events so far were initiated by concerned citizens that partnered with KALB, which provided supplies.

A cleanup at the Buzzard Roost area alone netted 59,800 pounds of the trash collected so far this year.

“I think it is wonderful we have been able to reach that many people,” Patterson said. “It shows you that there are so many people in this county that care about our community, what it looks like and what the litter is doing to our environment. That means the world to us.”

Patterson said five cleanups are the most she has ever been a part of so early in the year.

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