By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Friends of Lake Overholser/Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge are seeking volunteers to participate in the 9th Annual Clean-up event on Saturday, April 12 from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The Lake Overholser/Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge Clean-up is part of OKC Beautiful’s Litter Blitz, Keep Oklahoma Beautiful’s (KOB) Great American Clean-up, ODOT Trash-Off (the largest one-day clean-up statewide), and American Rivers’ National River Clean-up.
Volunteers will meet at the Overholser Pavilion located near N.W. 14 and E. Overholser Dr. Willing participants are needed to pick up trash, lead teams, staff the Pavilion, sort recyclables, and deliver supplies. Post clean-up workers are also needed.
The clean-up event will be held rain or shine.
“Participants will see firsthand the difference a committed group of volunteers can make in their local environment,” said Karen Miles, Friends of Lake Overholser/Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge Clean-Up Coordinator.
Volunteers will work with one of several teams. They are asked to wear sturdy boots, hat, durable gloves, insect repellant, and sunscreen. Trash bags, lunch, and some beverages will be provided.
The Friends of Lake Overholser/Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge was founded in February 2013. Its purpose is to protect and preserve the natural areas around Lake Overholser and the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge. It also works to improve water quality in Stinchcomb, a drinking water source for part of Oklahoma City.
“Last year around 250 volunteers were able to recycle at least half of what was collected,” Miles said. “We recycled about 100 pounds of aluminum, 1400 pounds of scrap metal, around 50 tires, and over 1.3 tons of glass/plastic/tin.
“We recycled at least three tons of material and that doesn’t even count the trash.”
After clean up of the assigned areas, volunteers will return to the Overholser Pavilion at 12:30 p.m. for a free lunch provided by Earl’s Rib Place (Fairgrounds), box meals from Jersey Mike’s and burgers from Cimarron Steak House. There will be a raffle of great prizes for the volunteers.
Lake Overholser is the city’s oldest reservoir. It was 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.
Kasey Steffen, OKC Beautiful Marketing and Events Manager said, “This cleanup was started by our own volunteer extraordinaire, Karen Miles. For nine years, Karen has worked to get donated food, drinks and giveaways, as well as a ton of volunteers to get the job done.”
Miles said, “Wildlife depends on these areas. Donations are welcomed to help with this event. It is totally community-supported.”
Maintaining the Overholser cat colonies is another of the duties of Friends of Lake Overholser.
The event is made possible by a 2014 OG&E Growth Grant, a grant from the Oklahoma Clean Lakes and Watersheds Association and the Department of Environmental Quality Green Team.
Members of the US Coast Guard OKC Chapter will participate in a kayak/canoe flotilla, removing debris from the water and shoreline.
“You can also help support the clean-up by gathering donations or items for the post clean-up raffle,” Miles said.
KAB’s Great American Cleanup is the nation’s largest annual community improvement program. In 2012, over four million volunteers provided nearly $230 million in measurable benefits in 20,000 communities nationwide.
Pug Hollow, a home for hospice and unadoptable dogs rescued from kill shelters, will have a booth at this year’s Overholser/Stinchcomb Clean-up event from 12 – 2 p.m. Due to Pug Hollow’s annual fundraiser being rained out, they will have “ambassadogs” to meet and greet along with bandanas and other items for sale to help cover their large vet bills.
Miles said, “We hope you choose to join us and help us rid Lake Overholser and the Stinchcomb Wildlife Refuge of trash and restore these areas to their natural beauty.”
Volunteers are asked to RSVP in order to plan on how much food and supplies will be needed.
For more details, contact Karen Miles at [email protected] or 405-702-8192.