Seed Funding: The plan for our seed funding is to purchase cleanup supplies including heavy duty large trash bags (42 gallon contractor bags, 4 packs of 32 count), orange vests for 25 volunteers to wear (for the purpose of visibility and as a uniform to identify themselves as cleanup volunteers), non-latex gloves (100 ct disposable), (24 washable cotton work gloves with PVC dots), five 5-gallon buckets and lids (for sorting sharp materials such as broken glass/aluminum cans and other uses as needed), grabbers, paper, markers, clear packing tape (for labeling 5 gallon buckets), hand sanitizer, cases of water, and donuts/pigs-n-blankets. These purchases will be made at stores within our town to help promote the local economy. Most of these materials will be purchased in advance at Harbor Freight or Parker Lumber. Water and markers will be purchased from Brookshire Brothers. Donuts/pigs-n-blankets will be purchased at Donut Palace on the morning of the cleanup. All supplies will be available on folding tables in the parking lot and labeled 5-gallon buckets will be lined up next to the tables. Tables will be provided by the Jasper Master Gardeners and Keep Jasper Beautiful. Paper and ink for flyers to advertise the cleanup will be provided by the Jasper County AgriLife office. We anticipate spending roughly $250.
COVID-19 Plan: Active cases of COVID-19 sufferers has remained relatively low in our semi-isolated town during the pandemic. The population of Jasper, TX is 7,500 people and is surrounded by 2 national forests, 3 lakes, hundreds of acres of Army Corps of Engineers land, and many acres of privately-owned or commercially-owned pine forest land. Social distancing is not a problem. To put it in perspective, the nearest movie theater is 1 hour away. Our vaccine rollout has also been highly successful. Therefore, our COVID-19 plan is fairly relaxed. This will be an all outdoor event. Most of the attending leaders and volunteers will be folks who have already attended previous roadside cleanups in March and April, therefore, they are well-informed of safety procedures for reducing exposure. Those that choose to wear a mask may do so. There will be ample space for social distancing. Disposable gloves, washable cotton gloves (for protection against sharp objects), and hand sanitizer will be provided to reduce the spread of germs. Washable gloves will be collected in a 5-gallon bucket which can easily be dumped into a washing machine without any contact to the person washing them. A sign-in sheet for volunteers can be arranged if necessary.
Impact on the Community: The second largest industry in Jasper, next to forestry, is eco-tourism, specifically bass fishing tournaments and boating on Sam Rayburn Reservoir, the largest lake that is fully contained within the borders of Texas (114,500 acres). Sam Rayburn was formed when a dam was built on the Angelina River. Other eco-tourism includes camping, hiking, boating, and paddlesports at one of the many ACOE parks, on the Angelina and Neches Rivers, and at Martin Dies Jr. State Park. Downstream from Sam Rayburn, the Angelina River flows for a while until it merges with the Neches River. The Neches River flows until it reaches the state park, downstream of which is a dam forms Lake Steinhagen. Sandy Creek ACOE Park also shares a shoreline with this 10,000-acre lake. The lake is popular with duck hunters and canoe/kayakers. This lake is very shallow (35 ft. max), and is reminiscent of Caddo Lake with its bald cypress trees and Spanish moss. For most of the year, it is too shallow for most motorized speed boats. Jon boats, canoes, and kayaks leave from the state park to explore the swamps of the Neches River as it meets the lake.
The problem begins at the Sam Rayburn dam. Just below the dam is a popular fishing area. There are parking lots on both sides of the Angelina River and the water is easily accessible via walking trails through the woods from the parking lot. These parking lots were likely intended as overflow parking for employees working in the hydroelectric dam. They are accessible to the public. You can always count on this area to have litter. Litter dropped by people who come here to fish. It can be found in the parking lot, along the trails, next to the water, and in small dump sites in the woods. Our original plan included cleaning up boat ramps (hence the group name) between the Sam Rayburn dam and Lake Steinhagen, where boaters leave trash after a day of boating on the river, but we discovered on May 5 that these areas were already cleaned up. Therefore, we will focus our efforts upstream, and prevent the fishing area litter from ending up in areas already cleaned. The ultimate goal is to encourage the eco-tourism of the Angelina and Neches Rivers (including the state park and Lake Steinhagen). Our cleanup efforts will help to improve the local economy and encourage repeat visitors by making the rivers & lake more attractive to tourists.