The 41st annual cleanup day of Sardis Lake is set for Saturday. Last year, around 75 volunteers collectively gathered more than two tons of trash. The Vicksburg District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Mugshots Grill and Bar are collaborating this year to lead the cleanup effort.
This year marks the first year of Mugshots and the Army Corps of Engineers jointly hosting the annual event. The Army Corps of Engineers has been involved since the inaugural event in 1976.
“It began with me going out to Sardis Lake on the weekends to help out,” Will Jordan, manager of Mugshots’ Oxford location, said. “I talked with my staff about the situation, and we just wanted to do our part.”
Volunteers usually include university students and families from the community. Houston Hartley, member of the Army Corps of Engineers and coordinator of the event, anticipates a mixture of new and returning volunteers.
“We’ve promoted it more on social media this year, so we’re hoping to see a larger turnout than usual,” he said.
Hartley said he hopes a large portion of the volunteers will be university students who have contributed to the littering situation at Sardis. However, students are by no means the only ones responsible for the situation.
According to Shirley J. Smith with the Public Affairs Office of the Vicksburg District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, throughout the year, approximately 1.3 million people visit Sardis Lake. Boating, fishing and general recreational use put pressure on the ecosystem, and events like the cleanup day are the Army Corps of Engineers’ way of restoring the environment.
“We are fulfilling our recreational mission to protect and preserve the resources at Sardis Lake for this generation and future generations to come,” Smith said.
The resources of Sardis Lake, located in Lafayette, Marshall and Panola counties, have a significant impact on the local economy – generating around $26 million a year.
“The lake has had so many visitors per year that it has become an integral part of the local economy,” Smith said.
Smith said maintaining a clean environment remains vital to both the lake’s ecosystem and the town’s economy.
Besides the economic value of Sardis Lake, the lake has been used for flood control in northern Mississippi since 1940. Since it became operational, the Army Corps of Engineers’ website writes, the lake’s dam has prevented flooding in 1973, 1983 and 1991.
Smith said most students, however, do not know the importance of Sardis Lake as a dam or economic boon to northern Mississippi. Rather, Sardis Lake has been a place to boat, hike, fish, hunt and camp.
“Sardis Lake not only has economic and protective value, but cultural, as well,” Smith said.
Trash pickup begins 8 a.m Saturday. This year, Mugshots is providing free lunch to the first 50 participants and hopes to involve the larger corporation of Mugshots, not just the Oxford location, in the future.