Trash bashers from left to right: David Hilton, Helena Safron, Fountain Hutchison, Karen Lehnert and Sophie Long

By Doug Alderson, Director of Outreach and Advocacy

A hardy group of six trash bashers descended upon River Landing Park in Chattahoochee on Saturday, February 12th. Many thanks to David Hilton, Helena Safron, Fountain Hutchison, Karen Lehnert and her daughter, Sophie Long for coming out.

The river was high and we were just able to circle the large temple mound without getting our feet wet. Ashley Hunter, editor of the Chattahoochee News-Herald, suggested we itemize the trash collected, so we borrowed survey sheets from the International Coastal Cleanup and tabulated the results. Here is the outcome:

Cigarette butts – 53

Food wrappers (candy, etc.) – 56

Take out plastic containers – 3

Take out foam containers – 9

Plastic bottle caps – 24

Metal bottle caps – 22

Plastic ware – 6

Fishing line – 19 yards

Cigar tips – 16

Plastic beverage bottles – 28

Glass beverage bottles – 29

Aluminum beverage cans – 74

Plastic grocery bags – 15

Other plastic bags – 10

Paper bags – 5

Paper cups and plates – 12

Plastic cups and plates – 13

Foam cups and plates – 22

6-pack holders – 1

Other plastic/foam packaging -16

Tobacco packaging/wrapping – 6

Diapers – 2

Paper napkins – 8

Small foam pieces – 32

Small glass pieces – 15

Small plastic pieces – 74

We also picked up part of a car tire and a large battery. As you can see, beverage containers took up a large volume of trash collected. Imagine what these numbers would look like if there was a redeemable deposit on glass, plastic and aluminum drink containers like in Michigan, New York and several other states?

Trout lilies in bloom, by Doug Alderson

After the cleanup, Karen suggested we visit the nearby Angus Gholson Nature Park since she heard the trout lilies were blooming. Several of us joined her and we happened upon a field trip that was wrapping up. Their guide, wildflower expert Bob Farley, offered to take us on the short loop trail that was open. Bob lives nearby and has been instrumental in clearing debris from Hurricane Michael along with other volunteers with the Magnolia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. It was such a pleasure to search for colorful wildflowers instead of trash and to have an expert on hand. Indeed, the yellow trout lilies were in bloom along with trilliums, atamasco lilies and wild blueberry. We also viewed the trickling Chattahoochee Spring and the remains of a downstream swimming pool that was used by workers on the Victory Bridge over the Apalachicola River in the early 1920s. Rare torreya trees grow in the park as well.

The park is a special biodiversity hotspot and a fitting tribute to Chattahoochee native Angus Gholson who championed for protection of these unique areas for most of his 92 years. Gholson passed away in 2014, but his legacy lives on. Besides the nature park, named for  Gholson by the city in 2003 “to honor an indefatigable field botanist and Chattahoochee’s most famous citizen,” three species of native plants are named for him.

Wildflower expert Bob Farley, by Doug Alderson
Blooming trilliums by Doug Alderson


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