Saturday’s clean-up of Bayou Bartholomew held personal resonance for Keep Morehouse Beautiful volunteer Chris Andrews.
“My friends and I grew up on the bayou,” said Andrews. “We fish the bayou on an almost weekly basis. It’s kind of like our playground.”
A member of KMB’s bayou cleanup committee, Andrews participated in the group’s second Bartholomew sweep over the weekend. In May, the organization launched its first bayou clean-up effort along the banks at three illegal dump sites, including one particularly littered area dubbed “Shingle Landing.” On Saturday, volunteers rolled up their sleeves and spruced up the bayou under U.S. 425 and along Bonner Ferry Road.
“There are a lot of good camping and fishing sites [along Bonner Ferry], and a lot of people leave debris behind,” said Andrews. “There were a lot of beer cans, plastics – your standard litter.”
Saturday’s haul included more than 20 old tires, a buried swimming pool pump, and – the oddest item Andrews said volunteers have found – a newspaper vending machine that had apparently been stolen and dumped over the bridge. The group was able to fill an entire dumpster to “overflowing,” he said, with “tires stacked up by the side.”
The area under the U.S. 425 bridge is at the culmination of the first established paddle trail on the bayou, published in an LSU AgCenter Agritourism brochure earlier this year. The site has also been the focus of efforts by the Morehouse Parish Police Jury and Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development to build an asphalt parking area for paddlers.
Volunteers participating in Saturday’s sweep included Tab Wilkerson, Roosevelt and Kathy Lenard, Lee Coleman, Pat Peppers, Bill Priestley, Rod Lebrun and Ivan Hendricks. Andrews expressed gratitude to Jimmy Turner with the Morehouse Parish Police Jury, who provided the dumpster, and Chip Adams with the Morehouse Parish Sheriff’s Office, who supervised trustees who have helped with the bayou clean-ups.
KMB is planning a community-wide float trip down the bayou in September, with a raffle for a new canoe or kayak to raise funds for further clean-up efforts. Andrews said the float’s main purpose will be “just to raise awareness.
“The bayou is one of the most scenic places in northeast Louisiana,” he said. “When the water’s as low as it is now, there are little white water rapids in places. Most people don’t realize we have this in our own backyard.”