09/30/04 — Big Sweep scheduled for Saturday

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Big Sweep scheduled for Saturday

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 30, 2004 2:02 PM

Wayne County's waterways will be cleaner after Saturday's Big Sweep.

Several groups have signed up to tackle the dirty job of picking up trash. But more volunteers are still needed.

Big Sweep 2004 will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The purpose of Big Sweep is to have litter-free rivers and streams and preserve the beauty and safety of one of the most valuable natural resources.

According to Ms. Byers, wildlife suffers when the waterways are littered with trash. Hundreds of wildlife mistake litter for food and die. They also become tangled in discarded trash and are rarely able to get free.

But it's not only the wildlife that suffers from littering. It's also a human health hazard because litter attracts disease-carrying mosquitoes and rodents. And litter contaminates the water supply.

Last year 283 volunteers picked up 3,340 pounds of trash from 13 miles of waterways at 16 sites in Wayne County, according to Ms. Byers.

Big Sweep began as Beach Sweep in 1987, founded by Dr. Lundie Spence of the North Carolina Sea Grant College Program. In 1989, it became Big Sweep, the nation's first statewide waterway cleanup.

"I think this is something that's needed here," said Ms. Byers. "One of the most positive things is that we can clean ditches and other areas, because eventually, most of that trash makes it way down to a stream and then out into the ocean and endangers wildlife."

Anyone wanting to participate in this year's Big Sweep should contact Ms. Byers at 731-1527.

She has trash bags and data cards for those helping clean and will collect data on how many volunteers there were, how much trash was picked up and what kind and how many miles of waterways were cleaned.