National Public Lands Day: Cleanup Volunteers needed at Savannah River Lakes

USACE, Savannah District
Published Sept. 16, 2022

 The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, is set to celebrate National Public Lands Day at Hartwell, Richard B. Russell, and J. Strom Thurmond Lakes Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022, and need volunteers to help cleanup.

National Public Lands Day is an annual event held across the nation when hundreds of thousands of volunteers gather together to help restore and preserve local, state, and federal public lands, from national parks and rivers to local urban green spaces. Originally established in 1994, the event is held on the fourth Saturday in September and the day is traditionally the nation’s largest annual single-day volunteer effort.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, National Public Lands Day efforts were scaled back to small group projects in 2020 and 2021 but this year’s events are planned to be a return to more widespread events of the years past.

Scout groups, civic organizations, church groups, schools, sport clubs, businesses, families, and individuals are expected to work on a variety of projects including litter and non-debris cleanup, brush clearing, and trail and park maintenance along the shoreline, islands, recreation areas, coves, old road ends, and bridge areas.

Hartwell Lake

At Hartwell Lake, the focus is on cleaning up litter and other non-natural debris along the shoreline and islands in and around the lake. The official event will run from 9 a.m. to noon. and volunteers can arrive by boat or vehicle. People are welcomed to sign up on the morning of. There will be six manned locations that volunteers can choose from to pick up bags and gloves as well to drop off collected trash:

  • Sadlers Creek State Park
  • Lake Hartwell State Park
  • Green Pond Landing
  • Twin Lakes Boat Ramp
  • Big Oaks Boat Ramp
  • Tugaloo State Park. 

“This year, we are excited to be partnering with Lake Hartwell Partners for Clean Water on the cleanup,” said Hartwell Lake Chief Ranger Tanya Grant. “Lake Hartwell Partners for Clean Water is made up of government agencies and local organizations who promote source water protection for Hartwell Lake. Hartwell Lake is one of the top visited Corps lakes in the U.S., but the lake’s popularity and heavy usage also results in litter along shorelines, in coves, and on islands so we need the public’s help in keeping the lake clean.”

To register, go to Lake Hartwell Partners for Clean Water Partner Register or the Corps’ Hartwell Lake Website to view the cleanup flyer and register by QR code.  Cleanup QR

Russell Lake

At Richard B. Russell Lake, Park Ranger Brandon Dickey teamed up with local Boy Scout, Jonah Kollman, to help him finish up a project so he could obtain his Eagle Scout rank. Kollman built 30 bluebird houses which will be installed throughout the lake area during the event. Volunteer work will also include shoreline and island cleanup, handicap access ramp construction, and trail maintenance.

“This year, we are again partnering with Beaverdam Marina to be our base camp,” said Richard B. Russell Lake Park Ranger Annette Dotson. “This will give participants one central location to launch boats, bring back trash, buy fuel and pick up bags and gloves. We are also excited to have Richard B. Russell State Park joining us for the cleanup and special projects.”

The official event will run from 9 a.m. to noon, concluding with lunch and awards. Volunteers will receive free T-shirts and federal fee-free passes while supplies last and in order of registration.

The volunteer registration forms for Russell Lake are available online at Land Day SignUp for the sign-up form and here Volunteer Agreement for the volunteer agreement. Both are required. A flyer is available here: Land Day Flyer

Thurmond Lake

At J. Strom Thurmond Lake, volunteer work will include fish attractor assembly, shoreline cleanup, trail maintenance, grill and picnic table painting, park roadway underbrush clearing, and lifejacket loaner boars, bluebird box, and bulletin board construction. The official event will run from 8 a.m. to noon, concluding with a picnic for volunteers where they’ll receive a free T-shirt provided by Rivers Alive, one of Thurmond’s biggest partners for the event.

The check-in location will be at the Below Dam South Carolina Recreation Area at 384 Power Plant Road, Clarks Hill. Walk-ups are welcomed on the morning of and free camping is available the nights of Sept. 23 and 24 for campers who wish to volunteer.  A free day-use pass will be given to all volunteers.

Charlie Fenwick, the park operations manager for Thurmond Lake, says they expect 200-300 volunteers this year and the event includes longstanding partners such as Rivers Alive, Columbia Country dive team, Georgia Horse Council, Greenbrier High School fishing team, Cub Scouts, and Girl Scouts, with the Savannah Lakes Village Outdoor Adventure Club joining the effort for the first time.

To participate at Thurmond, volunteers must complete and return a Volunteer Agreement  available online. Participants volunteering as a group can download a Group Agreement. Completed forms can be dropped off or mailed to the Thurmond Project Office at 510 Clarks Hill Highway, Clarks Hill, SC 29821or emailed to

In the event of severe weather conditions, National Public Lands Day events will be cancelled at all locations. An alternate (rain) date has not been scheduled.

Cheri Pritchard, Public Affairs Officer
912-677-6039 (cell)

Release no. 22-024