Our Lakes Need Your Help Staying Beautiful
By Elesha Jones
Lakeland, FL (TNT) – The Adopt-A-Lake Program was developed to involve the community in the preservation and protection of our lakes, which are a precious natural and economic resource to the City of Lakeland. Supervised by the City of Lakeland Lakes & Stormwater Division, in collaboration with Lakeland Clean & Beautiful, the program works closely with groups of volunteers that make an ongoing commitment to a specific lake to participate in clean-up events on a regular basis. There are 38 named lakes within the City of Lakeland, which provide numerous recreational opportunities, such as fishing, boating, hiking and wildlife viewing. The lakes also add to the aesthetic value to the community and are an attraction for visitors to our City. Keeping litter and trash out of our lakes leads to a healthier environment, and also keeps our City looking clean and beautiful.
Adopt-A-Lake volunteers participate in ongoing litter clean-up activities within and around our lakes. The Lakes & Stormwater Division will provide all the clean-up supplies including gloves, garbage bags, grabbers and nets each time the group schedules a clean-up event. Typically, an Adopt-A-Lake volunteer group commits to four clean-up events per year. Although this is not a rule, volunteer groups that commit to a minimum of four clean-ups per year will have a sign recognizing their group installed at their lake.
There are other opportunities for volunteers as well, including installing/replacing plaques on our storm drains that read “Dump No Waste, Drains to Lake.”
Individuals and groups of any size and age are welcome to volunteer. Typical volunteer groups include neighborhood associations, school groups, scout troops, church groups, and business/industry/corporate organizations. Groups can adopt a lake that has special meaning to them, or the Lakes & Stormwater Division can assign a lake that is in need of attention.
Volunteers can walk the shoreline of the lake and pick up and bag trash and litter. If they have access to boats, canoes or kayaks they can access trash and litter in the lake that is not reachable from the shoreline. If preferable, volunteers can perform clean-ups along roadways or drainage swales, since this is where most of the trash and litter that ends up in our lakes originates. Lakes & Stormwater staff will coordinate for a place to dispose of the bags of collected trash after the event is complete, as needed.
Individuals or groups interested in becoming an Adopt-A-Lake volunteer should contact Laurie Smith at the City of Lakeland’s Lakes & Stormwater Division. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 863.834.6276. The volunteer group registers for the program by signing a Letter of Intent, which serves as a commitment between the group and the Lakes & Stormwater Division. Once the Letter of Intent is signed, the group will agree to a schedule and coordinate their events with the Lakes & Stormwater Division staff.