Panacea Community Cleanup Held 3/11

It was a beautiful day for a cleanup in Panacea! The Interact students worked hard and got dirty. 3 dumpsters of trash yielding 12.2 tons and 1 dumpster of tires weighing 2.55 tons. We have not received the totals for the metal that was gathered. Thanks to Dan & Starla Wagner, the students, Sherrie Posey Miller, Michelle Crum, & WCSO for the great help to the KWCB board.


On Saturday 2/25/2023, Keep Wakulla County Beautiful and the U S Forest Service were joined by 103 volunteers and community leaders in their effort to clean the national forest.  The Apalachicola National Forest is an annual event held with help from the U S Forestry Service and kicks off the Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup for our local affiliate. There were 12 sites that had been identified as having an excessive amount of litter or being used for illegal dumping.

The Great American Cleanup is Keep America Beautiful’s signature program. It is the nation’s largest community improvement initiative, which takes place annually in an estimated 20,000 communities nationwide engaging more than 5 million volunteers and participants, on average, every year to create a positive and lasting impact.

“At Keep Wakulla County Beautiful, we work to inspire people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment through programs like the Great American Cleanup. This initiative prompts individuals to take greater responsibility for their local environment by conducting grassroots community service projects that engage volunteers, local businesses and civic leaders.” Per Tammie Nason, the Executive Director of Keep Wakulla County Beautiful.

The Leaders Against Litter was again tied into this year’s event. The purpose of his initiative is to raise awareness about how Florida’s pervasive litter problem affects communities by inviting community leaders to observe the problem first-hand by cleaning up a local site and educating participants about the direct and indirect costs and damage caused by litter. Keeping Florida beautiful is a civic responsibility that rests equally on all our shoulders. The Leaders Against Litter is a program held by several of Keep Florida Beautiful’s affiliates.  Local leaders attending included Commissioner Quincee Messersmith who delivered our proclamation at the event, Commissioner Mike Kemp, Commissioner Fred Nichols, Sopchoppy Mayor Lara Edwards, and County Administrator David Edwards. 

Other volunteers consisted of several community members, USFS employees, and Wakulla County Road & Bridge Dept.

Items gathered included many tires & rims, furniture, mattresses, appliances, flooring, a toilet, and more along with the normal cans and bottles that are always collected. In total we collected near 6,000 lbs. of debris from our forest.  We do have to get the actual totals from Waste Pro once the dumpster is picked up and weighed.

Of the 573,521 acres of Apalachicola National Forest, over 172,000 acres of this forest lies within Wakulla County.  Wildlife that can be found in our forest includes Florida black bears, whitetail deer, fox squirrels, coyotes, alligators, and snakes, as well as protected, threatened, and sensitive species such as the American bald eagle, gopher tortoise, striped newt, and Flatwoods salamander. Did you know that The Apalachicola National Forest has the world’s biggest population of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers; broad white bands painted around the trunks of longleaf pine trees indicate nest clusters. “We are so fortunate to have the beauty of the forest and it’s wildlife right here and accessible to us” said Tammie Nason, Director of Keep Wakulla County Beautiful “it is such a shame that not everyone respects our fragile environment”.

Litter in our forests can pose risks to wildlife and environment in several ways. Toxins from accumulated litter can leak into the soil and eventually into the water.  These toxins can be ingested by wildlife in the forest as well as some items that may cause injuries. Excessive litter can also affect the amount of light reaching the soil.  This can cause an increase in herbivorous insects and decrease the growth of seedlings and other plant life. Litter tends to be flammable increasing the risk of fire hazards.

If you see any litter sites or dumping in the forest, please reach out to the Wakulla Ranger District at (850)926-3561.  A thank you goes out to Wakulla County for supporting our events, WastePro for the donation of the dumpsters used for these large cleanup events, and our volunteers.  We could not do this without them.

Following the event, volunteers were fed lunch sponsored by Waste Pro and asked to sign a pledge board that states:

I will stand up, pick up and speak up!

Leaders Against Litter Pledge for a Cleaner Tomorrow

“We all have an obligation to preserve and protect our beautiful state. Together, we can make a huge impact. I promise to support Keep Florida Beautiful and the local affiliates for a litter-free, more beautiful Florida.

I will … SPEAK Up and spread the word that litter is not acceptable in Florida.

I will … PICK Up litter whenever I see it.

I will … STAND UP and lead the way for a litter-free Florida.”

Working to keep our piece of paradise beautiful.

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