PalmettoPride, Forest Service seek volunteers for ninth Francis Marion forest cleanup

PalmettoPride PalmettoPrideTeams of volunteers will fan out across the 260,000-acre Francis Marion National Forest on Saturday morning to pick up litter and debris from illegal dumping.

With a weather forecast of cool temperatures but no rain, organizers of the largest annual cleanup in the Francis Marion National Forest are hoping to draw more than the 155 brave souls who endured foul weather last year.

On Saturday, from 8 a.m. to noon, the U.S. Forest Service and PalmettoPride are holding the ninth annual Francis Marion National Forest Clean Up, which focuses not only on cleaning up roadside litter but illegal dumping sites. After the cleanup, food will be served.

Volunteers can contact PalmettoPride’s Scott Morgan at smorgan@palmettopride.org or 877-725-7733 to find out about one of five locations for the pickup or meet at the Forest Service office at 2967 Steed Creek Road in Huger prior to the event.

Those who volunteer are urged to dress appropriately for the weather, which on Saturday morning calls for temperatures in the low- to mid-40s and no rain, and to wear “sturdy shoes and long pants.”

Jennifer Fisher, director of marketing for PalmettoPride, said about 250 people are currently signed up for the cleanup.

“We can always use more volunteers and anyone is welcome to attend,” said Fisher. “We just ask that children under 16 be accompanied by an adult. School groups, families, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and any group of any size are welcome as well as individual volunteers.”

Illegal dumping, notably construction waste, is an issue in the forest, said Fisher.

“We are constantly finding slabs of concrete, mounds of shingles and other building debris. In the past we’ve found tires, boats, electronics, such as televisions and household items. We’ve found entire contents of homes dumped in the forest. People seem to pull off the main road and unload their trucks because they think no one will see them,” she said. “Our mission is to change that behavior and instill pride in the citizens of South Carolina.”

Palmetto Pride encourages everyone to report littering when first seen by calling a hotline (877-7LITTER) or by using the PalmettoPride trash tracker app.

“Our new app allows users to drop a pin wherever they are based on the GPS location of their phone. This ensures reporting is accurate even in remote areas, such as certain areas of the forest,” Fisher said.