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Volunteers work to clean up Okatibbee

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Sept. 19, 2003
Public use areas around Okatibbee Lake are due for a cleanup on Saturday at the hands of volunteers in celebration of National Public Lands Day.
Mark Dean, a park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said volunteers will pick up litter, build bird boxes and make general improvements around the lake from 8:30 a.m. until about 11 a.m.
Dean said about 250 volunteers were signed up for this year's cleanup, including students and church groups. The volunteers, who will be divided into various work groups, will be provided with a free lunch. Although the beaches at the lake were closed the day after Labor Day, he said the $3 fee for launching a boat would be waived on Saturday.
The local project is part of a nationwide effort to encourage people to participate in National Public Lands Day. Dean said the goal of Saturday's event is to promote environmental awareness and a sense of responsibility that everyone shares to conserve natural resources through stewardship.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates more than 2,500 recreation areas at 456 projects and leases an additional 1,800 sites to state or local park and recreation authorities and private interests.
In a press release issued earlier this month, Maj. Gen. Robert H. Griffin, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the National Public Lands Day is a way to welcome visitors to the Corps' parks.
Sponsors for the event Saturday include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Keep America Beautiful of Meridian and Lauderdale County, Cove's Nest Marina, the Pat Harrison Waterway District, and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
In case of rain, the cleanup will be rescheduled for Sept. 27. For more information about National Public Lands Day, call the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office at Lake Okatibbee at 626-8431 or visit the Web site