CLEAN CATOOSA wheelbarrow

On April 27, the nonprofit organization LIFT will be partnering with the cities of Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe, as well as Catoosa County and other groups, to clean up streets and waterways and landscape public spaces and then gather to celebrate Earth Day. / Contributed

One year ago, the still very new non-profit, LIFT, and the city of Ringgold partnered to hold an Earth Day event that brought together over 100 people to help clean and beautify the city with trash-pickup and landscaping projects.

This year, LIFT and other non-profits, including TenneSEA, Wild Trails, and Lionhearts Fitness, are partnering with Ringgold, Fort Oglethorpe and Catoosa County for a repeat performance on April 27 they’re calling CLEAN CATOOSA.

The public is invited to come out to help clean up streets and creeks, plant trees and flowers, spread mulch and more. When the work is finished, volunteers will gather at the Northwest Georgia Amphitheater to report on their work, enjoy live music and lunch and participate in activities. There will be environmental groups at the amphitheater teaching about various types of recycling, composting and watershed projects and booths featuring butterfly and honey bee experiences, seed-planting activities and earth cookie decorating. The Catoosa County Library will have a display of environmental books, and sponsor organizations and businesses will be set up to share what they do.

“This event is about service and community,” says Ringgold Mayor Nick Millwood, who participated last year. “LIFT is one of the best at promoting both of those things. We’re excited to grow this event this year to include Fort Oglethorpe and Catoosa County and show the next generation the things we can do when we come together.”

Ringgold City Manager Dan Wright also participated last year. “A new project we have planned,” he says, “is a wildflower garden along some of the nature trails. It will add color to the trails and reduce the amount of mowing needed.”

Wright also says that planting trees along South Chickamauga Creek will assist in stream bank stabilization by guarding against erosion and will provide shade and lower the water temperature in the summer, which will promote a healthy aquatic population. “We still need to replace some of the trees lost in the 2011 tornado,” he says.

In addition to on-land projects, local residents who have kayaks, canoes or paddle boards — and life vests — are invited to sign up for a waterway team and help clean up local creeks. “Our water is a shared resource,” says TenneSEA Executive Director Mary Beth Sutton. “Everyone uses it and has a personal responsibility for taking care of it. We hope by connecting people through these clean-up efforts we will encourage long-term stewardship of our waterways.”

“The biggest benefit from last year,” says Wright, “was the camaraderie of over 100 people working in the rain. No one complained. To see adults working alongside children and youth that they didn’t even know was great. It built community.”

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.