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Keep America Beautiful Holds Day of Action and Great American Cleanup events in April

Volunteers sort recyclable materials during the clean up at Lake Overholser and the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge during the Keep America Beautiful National Day of Action. Photo by Darla Shelden.
Volunteers sort recyclable materials during the clean up at Lake Overholser and the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge during the Keep America Beautiful National Day of Action. Photo by Darla Shelden.

By Darla Shelden
Contributing Writer

In honor of Keep America Beautiful’s (KAB) National Day of Action, citizens recently gathered to clean up Lake Overholser and the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma City. The event was held as part of Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s (KOB) Great American Clean Up, OKC Beautiful’s Litter Blitz, and American Rivers’ National River Clean-Up.

The 8th Annual Lake Overholser/Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge Clean Up was the first of two large clean-ups the groups are conducting this month.
Over 200 volunteers participated in the lake area clean up. A free lunch was provided by Earl’s Rib Palace for the 6th year, along with Jersey Mike’s and Cimarron Steak House. Over 40 donated items were raffled off for free to participating volunteers.

Lake Overholser is the city’s oldest reservoir, built in 1919 to provide water to a treatment plant still operating at N.W. 6 and Pennsylvania Ave. Located off old Route 66 between Council Road and Morgan Road, a canal connects it to Lake Hefner.

Cecile Carson, Keep American Beautiful Senior Director, Affiliate Development said, “I’m excited to be working with Oklahoma City Beautiful and Keep Oklahoma Beautiful for this National Day of Action that’s going on all over the United States.

“This is one of our highlight cities,” said Carson. “Having this visible event will hopefully make people notice that this situation is easy to stop. We need to take advantage of our household trash collection and have recycling done properly.

“Part of this effort is to clean up this wildlife refuge,” Carson said. “Don’t throw stuff out of windows that might end up on our roadways and waterways and also impact animals’ lives.”

Kasey Steffen, OKC Beautiful Marketing and Events Manager said, “This cleanup was started by our own volunteer extraordinaire, Karen Miles. For eight years, Karen has worked to get donated food, drinks and giveaways, as well as a ton of volunteers to get the job done.”
Members of the US Coast Guard OKC Chapter participated in a kayak/canoe flotilla, removing debris from the water and shoreline.

“It was awesome,” said group organizer Beverly Voss. “I try to organize a Coast Guard group every year because environmental protection is one of our missions. We love helping out with the community and helping to protect our natural resources.”
Coast Guard member Joseph Hayes said, “I was in a kayak doing the cleanup. I thought it was a pretty good time. I don’t see why more people don’t come out here and do this.”

Karen Miles, Clean-Up Coordinator and President of Friends of Lake Overholser/Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge reported that Waste Management picked up 1.3 tons of recyclable plastic and glass collected during the event. Also recycled were 79 pounds of aluminum, 1,020 pounds (1/2 ton) of scrap metal and 22 tires.

The clean up was made possible through donations from Chesapeake Energy, The City of Bethany, Oklahoma Clean Lakes and Watershed Association, Pepsi Bottling Group, Sonic, Chick-fil-A, City of OKC, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Green Team, OKC Kayaks and Waste Management.

The second Lake Overholser/Stinchcomb clean up event will be on Saturday, April 20. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) Annual Trash-OFF will again be the state’s signature event in the 2013 Great American Cleanup (GAC).

Miles said, “This clean-up will be part of ODOT’s Trash-Off which is the single largest one-day clean up event in the state of Oklahoma.”
Volunteers are needed from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. to clean remaining regions around the Overholser/Stinchcomb area. Participants are asked to meet at Overholser Pavilion, N.W. 14 & Overholser Dr., and wear sturdy shoes, a hat, work gloves, insect repellant and sunscreen.

Last spring 60,000 participants from across Oklahoma collected more than 5 million pounds of litter. Over 420,000 pounds of various materials were recycled, saving Oklahoma an estimated $6 million.

As the statewide GAC sponsor, Devon Energy Corporation will honor one outstanding community with the Devon GAC Achievement Award. It includes a $1000 cash prize for the best all-around GAC effort.

KAB’s Great American Cleanup is the nation’s largest annual community improvement program. In 2012, over 4 million volunteers provided nearly $230 million in measurable benefits in 20,000 communities nationwide.

ODOT Trash-OFF participants are eligible to receive trash bags, volunteer badges and other promotional items made available through GAC national sponsors, Keep America Beautiful and Keep Oklahoma Beautiful.

The Friends of Lake Overholser/Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge was founded on Feb. 23, 2013 to protect and preserve the natural areas around Lake Overholser and the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge, and to improve water quality in Stinchcomb, a drinking water source for part of Oklahoma City.
“I really appreciate all the volunteers who gave so much of their time to clean up these areas,” said Miles. “I appreciate all that the donors have given to make this such a successful clean up to an area that people enjoy.”

To participate in the ODOT Trash-OFF, email [email protected] or call Karen Miles at 405-702-8192. To register your organization online, check the Trash-OFF box at

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