Greenbrier Lake gets annual cleaning by volunteer scuba divers

September 09, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • Diver John McMillan of Smithsburg brings up a styrofoam plate and a foam football Sunday from Greenbrier Lake. He was diving with Blue Marble Divers to clean the swimming area at Greenbrier State Park.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

BOONSBORO, Md. — A set of yellow, blue or neon green flippers occasionally appeared Sunday morning beyond the rope line bordering the swimming area at Greenbrier Lake.

Then the flippers disappeared and scuba divers’ heads bobbed to the surface.

For at least 10 years, divers from the Tri-State area have volunteered to pick up trash in the lake at Greenbrier State Park, said David Stealey, who helps organize the annual cleanup. Stealey and his wife, Mary, own Blue Marble Divers in the South Pointe Shopping Center in Hagerstown.

On Sunday, 30 divers collected enough trash to fill a kitchen trash bag, Stealey estimated. Most of the trash was small.

The trash found included lots of plastic, cans, $6 in cash, clothes, a pearl earring, Mardi Gras beads, a bait bucket, and lots of fishing line and lures, Stealey said. The cleanup lasted approximately 90 minutes, he said.

All of the divers left with some kind of prize for their efforts, Stealey said.

Among the diving equipment companies that donated prizes were Aeris and the Divers Alert Network, Stealey said.

The park has about 2,000 visitors on a summer weekday, and about 3,000 to 5,000 visitors on a summer Saturday or Sunday, Assistant Park Manager Tammy McCorkle said.

Most of the park’s visitors are regulars and do a good job of taking their trash with them, but occasionally a child forgets something or the wind blows an item away, McCorkle said.

A lot of the trash in the lake is plastic, including monofilament fishing line that can kill turtles and waterfowl who dive and can’t get free of the line when it wraps around their necks, McCorkle said.

“We see turtles that are dragging monofilament line behind them,” McCorkle said.

Among one of the worst and most common pieces of trash at the lake is the trash left from drink pouches, McCorkle said. Usually there are four pieces — the container, the straw and two pieces of broken straw wrapper, the latter of which waterfowl can swallow, she said.

Divers are still looking for a yellow fin that a diver lost five years ago, McCorkle said.

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