The day dawned bright and cool with a slight breeze as we gathered at Rivers Road Trailhead for the new (first ever) mini trash cleanup in the national forest (you may be aware the annual trash cleanup takes place in February and STA has been a participant since it was established) . The forest has been without official law enforcement detail for seven weeks due to our officer being injured in an accident so the “emergency” cleanup event was created because he feared, by his absence, that people would take advantage of the situation and dump stuff. We pray and wish for his complete recovery from his injuries.
It didn’t take long to discover that two different STA work groups would participate. These groups came together as a result of reconnaissance efforts on our four trails to determine where trash was located. The blue trail (longest one) was the “winner” for having trash at two of our “watering” locations and the other trails were clear. Lyn, Katrina, Tram and Herb rode with Sue in her gator to pick up the trash. Ron and Charlotte rode their horses and did overhead trimming on the orange trail.

The trash on the north end of the blue trail was located at a beautiful cypress pond and on the way there we discovered more gopher tortoise enclosures have been erected. (These enclosures have erosion control material attached to wooden posts and cover large areas. The gopher tortoises were removed from other areas of the forest where timbering would occur and when replanting is completed they will be returned to their “home” area.) We also had to do some overhead trimming and move large trees to the side of the road so we could get the gator through to the trash. There was also trash on the south end on the “way back” trail at another pond. To get to this area, we continued down the blue trail (trimming and removing debris) to the gas line and then used it to get to the “way back” trail. After cleaning up the trash on the south side, we decided to check the portion of the yellow trail that goes to Crawfordville Hwy. We discovered some markers have been removed but we were able to follow the trail thanks to Lyn’s excellent memory. We discovered a huge fallen oak tree on the trail and Herb did a great job of finding a safe route around it. All in all, we collected three horse feed bags of trash in three hours. Many thanks to Lyn for bringing the bags and to Herb for bringing his loppers. Katrina did an excellent job overhead trimming from the back of the gator! Tram and Herb were great at moving trees off the road and breaking big limbs. Sue did her best to make the gator ride as safe and comfortable as possible.