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Great Lake Cleanup focuses its efforts

Volunteers asked to meet at Green Lake Boat Launch on Sat., June 2

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The sixth annual Great Lake Cleanup will take a much more targeted approach than in its first five years.

Volunteers are asked to meet at the Green Lake Boat Launch at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 2, where a concerted effort will be focused on Whistler's largest lake.

"And bring the weapon-of-extraction of your choice," said organizer Roger McCarthy.

"I've got a really nice three-pronged raking tool for in the garden, and I strapped that to a long pole. There are not too many things that can escape me."

In past years the annual community lake-cleaning blitz has spread out to cover all the lakes of Whistler, and even the River of Golden Dreams, but this year's event will scale back in an effort to tidy Green Lake alone.

"Green Lake has seen a lot of abuse over time from an industrial standpoint," McCarthy said.

"Over by the old mill there, there's all kinds of nasty stuff in the water—rusted steel, rusted cables—and I don't know how much of that stuff we'll actually be able to move, but we'll have some kind of feeling for it, I guess, once we get there."

Assisting in the effort again this year will be a team of volunteers from Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans, and all volunteers will once again be treated to lunch following the clean up.

The event has been a huge success over the years, to the point where it's hard for McCarthy to pinpoint exactly how much garbage has been pulled from the lakes.

"Dump truck after dump truck load," he said with a laugh. "We haven't filled a dump truck every year, but I would say that there's probably at least four dump truck loads that have come out of the lakes."

And over time, volunteers are finding less and less trash in Whistler's lakes—a sign that people are becoming more aware, McCarthy said.

"I think we've shifted the mentality for sure, which was really part of the goal," he said, adding that where volunteers used to find tons of plastic bags and similar items, the numbers have dropped drastically.

"We just don't see that stuff anymore. We've taken it all out, and I think we raised awareness, which was really the key ... I think a lot more people appreciate the lakes for what they are, and are trying to keep them the way they were."

Whistler's lakes are a big part of what makes the resort so special, McCarthy said.

"There's tons of resorts that call themselves four-season resorts, and they've got a couple of lifts and a swimming pool," he said with a laugh.

"I look at it and say this is something that really should be cherished, and taken care of. It's a pretty unique spot, and the lakes make up a big piece of that."

Organizers are expecting between 30 and 50 volunteers, McCarthy said, and all are welcome to take part.

"Somebody found a wallet last year off the end of one of the docks on Blueberry that had $150 in it ... there's all kinds of stuff down there," he said.

"People come back the following year and they've got some kind of weapon, for getting stuff off the bottom that they've been thinking about since last year. It's cool."

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