Big Sweep coming Sept. 30

   Hanging Dog – Prepare for a day of getting muddy, finding hidden treasures and eradicating litter in Hiwassee Lake because the Big Sweep is back for a 20th year.
   Rain or shine, the cleanup will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 30, at Hanging Dog Campground’s pavilion and boat ramp, 4495 Joe Brown Highway. Hosted by Cherokee County
   Big Sweep and Mainspring Conservation Trust, volunteers will receive breakfast and lunch as well as free T-shirts, water bottles and gloves.
   Big Sweep coordinators encourage volunteers to wear sunscreen, closed-toed shoes and mud-ready clothing, plus make sure to sign up early. This year’s insurance coverage will be provided through Mainspring Conservation Trust.
   The N.C. Department of Transportation and Tennessee Valley Authority will provide trash bags, while the Cherokee County Landfill will conduct the finalized waste removal.
   The Cherokee County Tourism Development Authority recognized the positive economic impact of the Big Sweep last week, with the board voting to provide $500 toward the event. Board member Justin Vaught said the lake holds value, especially for local tourism. By cleaning the lake, the community’s quality of life – and number of visitors – naturally increase.
   While cleaning Hiwassee Lake helps the local economy, marine wildlife also reap the benefits of a litter-free environment. Removing trash improves the lake’s water quality and reduces the threat of waste-related deaths among its aquatic residents.
   “Last year we had 40 people, and we removed 15,720 pounds of trash,” Mainspring Conservation Trust representative Sara Posey said. “The more people we have, the more trash we can pick up out of the lake.”
   The 15,720-pound amount in 2016 included three half-sunken boats, 26 passenger tires, five truck tires and two lawn mower tires.
   Duke’s Marina will provide four boats for the event. Anyone interested in bringing a personal boat – whether motorized or paddle – should send a direct message to the Cherokee County Big Sweep’s Facebook page.