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Thousands of pounds of trash pulled from Melton Hill Lake during trash cleanup

More trash and debris than normal washed from the roadways into nearby bodies of water after all the February flooding in East Tennessee.

Volunteers embraced the sunny and 75 weather on Saturday to help clean up the Tennessee River and its tributaries.

Their efforts were all part of the 30th annual Ijams River Rescue. Multiple organizations, including Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful and Living Lands and Waters brought crews to collect trash and debris from Melton Hill Lake.

Casper Pleasant, a 10-year-old boy scout, came with his troop to help clean up the water.

"I think its amazing we're picking up all the trash around this area and helping the environment and lake and stuff like that," Pleasant noted.

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Kathleen Gibi, the Executive Director of Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, said they are helping with the Ijams cleanup and contributing to more.

"We found a nice treasure trove of trash unfortunately, but we're here supporting the 30th annual Ijams River Rescue," Gibi explained. "It's one of four cleanups we're doing across the Tennessee River in three different states."

A total of 9,000 pounds of trash were pulled from two previous cleanups this year, and Gibi estimated that the trash collected from Saturday alone would surpass that number.

The thousands of pounds of trash that were picked up along the shorelines came from roadways that were overtaken by water during the February floods, which is part of the reason KTRB received a huge grant from a national organization.

"We received a grant from Keep America Beautiful," Gibi explained. "Because our river was flooded so badly and so severely, they gave us a $10,000 grant for community restoration."

Gibi says 80 percent of what is found in the waterways was originally littered on land, so when the water overtook roads in February, the trash and debris found its way in.

"All of that litter you see on the shoulder of the road, that's in the water now," Gibi pointed out.

When everything is said and done with the cleanup, crews expect to have collected more than 10 tons of trash from the waterways.

They say they will recycle what they can and the rest will be disposed of properly.

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