Although social distancing has curtailed many gatherings, the Lake Lanier Association used the time to stage a spring Shore Sweep – virtually. The group is encouraging people to pick up trash and debris and submit photos that will be judged by the association for prizes.

“With the exceptionally high water levels this winter and spring, the amount of debris on the shorelines has increased tremendously,” said Jennifer Flowers, executive director of the Lake Lanier Association. “Yet, as families look for safe-distance alternatives to sitting at home, we created Social Distancing Spring Shore Sweep to achieve two goals: help clean up the shorelines of Lake Lanier and give families a chance to enjoy some time outdoors together while doing something with a purpose.”

Although Georgia has been under a shelter-at-home order from Gov. Brian Kemp, the Georgia State Parks and other outdoor venues have remained open for hiking, walking, and biking, as long as people are mindful of social-distancing guidelines. Those include no gatherings of more than 10 people, all from the same household, and keeping a distance of 6 feet between each other.

“The criteria for the photo contest includes demonstrating that participants are practicing social distancing and that they are making good headway in trash removal,” Flowers said. “We have been receiving many entries to the contest that show creative ways to retrieve debris while staying safe.”

The association established four major sites around the lake for dropping off large debris, such as Styrofoam: Sportsman’s Club near Gainesville Marina, Latham Creek, Beaver Run at Young Deer Creek and Gwinnett Park.

“All of these locations are near construction sites or at the end of roads and local marine vendors have been very helpful in moving and loading debris into dumpsters,” she said.

Those businesses include Marine Specialties, Martin Docks, and Bin There, Dump That. Republic Services has waived tipping fees.

The association will award six prizes, a $200 gift card for first place, a $100 gift card for second place, and four $50 gift cards for third place. The gift cards may be used at any of the association’s business sponsors.

Winners will be announced in May on the Lake Lanier Association website at Lakeside on Lanier will publish the winning photo in its June issue.