For more than 40 years, volunteers in Arkansas have picked up litter among the state’s highways and waterways in an effort to clean up their communities.
Keep Arkansas Beautiful’s Great Arkansas Cleanup has been taking place this year since Sept. 8 and runs through the end of October.
How did this program get started?
Arkansas is at the root of what has become a national movement.
In the mid-70′s Carl Garner, a Sulphur Rock, Arkansas native and resident engineer with the Corps of Engineers in Arkansas, organized the first event to help pick up trash around Greers Ferry Lake and the Little Red River after Labor Day crowds exited. Garner’s effort was simply an attempt to remove trash and debris from the pristine natural area.
The clean-up caught on and by 1985, then-U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers (D), an advocate for preserving Arkansas’ natural resources, guided legislation requiring an annual pickup event during the weekend after Labor Day on all federal lands.
This law, the Carl Garner Federal Lands Cleanup Act, honors the founder of the event.
Last year, the Great Arkansas Cleanup featured 167 local events across the state. More than 10,500 volunteers picked up almost 1 million pounds of litter from roughly 800 miles of roadway, 200 parks and public areas, and 650 miles of shoreline. The volunteer effort provided the state and participating communities a cost-saving value of more than $1 million.
Recently, I sat down with Bob Phelps, director of the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission to learn much more about the origins of this event and what’s taking place this year with its growth and outreach.
Listen to our conversation here.
And for more information on how you can participate, try KeepArkansasBeautiful.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll-free 888-742-8701.