On Saturday, Feb. 29, Keep Wakulla County Beautiful was joined by 92 volunteers and community leaders in their effort to clean the national forest. The Seas to Trees Apalachicola National Forest is an annual event held with help from the U.S. Forest Service and kicks off the Keep America Beautiful Great American Cleanup for our local affiliate. 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.
The Leaders Against Litter was 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. Local leaders attending included County Commissioner Quincee Messersmith who delivered our proclamation at the event, County Commissioner Chuck Hess, Sopchoppy Mayor Lara Edwards, and County Administrator David Edwards. Other volunteers consisted of several community members, USFS employees, representatives from Sen. Marco Rubio’s office, Verizon employees, FWC employees, and several of our local candidates running for office including Joe Morgan (KWCB President and candidate for Supervisor of Elections), Greg James (KWCB Board member and candidate for Clerk of Courts), Mike Kemp (candidate for Commissioner District 3), and Greg Diehl (candidate for Commissioner District 5).
Items gathered included many tires and rims, freezers, siding, furniture, mattresses, fencing, and more – along with the normal cans and bottles that are always collected. Our most unusual finds would be an old manual typewriter and check embosser. In total we collected near 6,000 pounds of debris from our forest. We do have to get the actual totals from WastePro once the dumpster is picked up and weighed.We appreciate all who have come out to assist in cleaning our community. It is a necessary evil unfortunately. As long as people do not dispose of trash responsibly, we will have the need for these cleanups. We are so fortunate in Wakulla County to have so many natural areas to enjoy and we strive to keep them in the best possible condition for our community and wildlife to enjoy. We intend to keep the forest cleanup and Leader’s event going annually and have it grow to cover even more areas in our forest. 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.”