Amite River

Rachel Deaton, a resident of Watson, is spearheading an all-day cleanup of the Amite River, which is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10, at Fred’s on the River.

Rachel Deaton doesn’t go on the Amite River as much these days, but she has friends who do — and who tell her about the filth that resides there.

One friend recently told her she saw a refrigerator, a freezer, propane tanks and other debris floating in the river, and that doesn’t include the trees that boaters must avoid while navigating the local waterway.

With no one stepping up — or cleaning up — Deaton has decided to take matters into her own hands.

Deaton, a resident of Watson, is spearheading an all-day cleanup of the Amite River, which is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10, at Fred’s on the River.

Deaton said she has teamed with the Waterway Commissions and sheriff’s offices in Livingston and Ascension parishes in the endeavor, as well as the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Homeland Security.

The meeting point will be Fred’s on the River, Deaton said. From there, crews will clean the Amite River all the way from Bayou Manchac to Lake Maurepas.

Deaton said she has commitments from several riverside restaurants and bars that have agreed to let crews use their dumpsters to deposit the collected trash. She also has “about 50 boats” ready to go, though she hopes to double that number by the time cleanup crews take the river in two months.

“We’re trying to get as many people involved as possible,” Deaton said. “There’s so much debris and trees left in the water. Some are still from the floods in 2016, but it seems like there’s more and more.”

“The average boater spends $3,000 to $4,000 a season for hitting submerged pieces of debris, so we’ve been telling people it’s so much easier to spend the day getting the trash out versus spending all the money fixing your boat,” Deaton said.

Deaton said the cleanup crews will be split into seven sections under team leaders who reside in those particular areas. She also said she’s going to provide as many garbage bags and supplies as possible but encourages volunteers to bring their own if possible.

“We’re looking for people to commit their time, whether it’s a whole day or half a day,” she said. “If people want to donate dumpster or garbage bags or cases of water, they can. But really, it’s about people finding the time because it’s a huge area.

“This is something that has been brought up multiple times, and we need to finally do it.”

For more information, email projectrivercleanup@yahoo.com or visit the “Project River Clean Up” page on Facebook.

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