Project spruces up Fisheating Creek Outpost

GLADES COUNTY — Employees of Clean Earth of Southern Florida, some of their family members and local volunteers helped clear out a lot of deadwood on the first weekend of autumn at the Fisheating Creek Outpost.

“We got more done than we thought we were going to get done, and the trees came down that they needed to come down, which is a good thing for everybody,” said Clean Earth of South Florida (CESF) General Manager Steven Donovan about the cleanup, which took place Saturday, Sept. 29.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of CESF
Luckily, many of the volunteers were youths with strong backs for whom collecting the heavy hunks of firewood wasn’t too strenuous.

The Fisheating Creek campgrounds provide camping sites for tents and RVs along with rentals of canoes and kayaks. These waters constitute one of the most pristine creeks in Florida and are located just west of Lake Okeechobee.

Mr. Donovan said there was a good turnout of people coming to help, who were also drawn to attend through CESF’s partners in the “Clean Earth Day” event, the Glades County Economic Development Council and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

CESF employees and their families along with their EDC and FWC team members spent several hours removing dead trees, trimming overhanging limbs and picking up trash throughout the campgrounds. “They identified the trees they wanted taken out, and we cut them down and cut them into firewood for use at the campground,” Mr. Donovan said. The logs and dead limbs will be burned by campers only in the provided fire pits.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of CESF
Many of the volunteers were youths with strong backs for whom collecting the heavy hunks of firewood wasn’t too strenuous.

A division of Clean Earth Inc., which is a specialty waste management corporation based in Hatboro, Penn., the company operates a facility in Moore Haven that’s “affectionately known to Glades County residents as ‘the dirt plant’.” Mr. Donovan explained: “We’re pretty much a specialized contractor. We actually process petroleum-contaminated soil, clean it and recycle it. Part of our sustainability plan is that at all of our facilities combined, we recycle approximately 98 percent of the materials we take in.”

Another part of that plan, he said, is to “try to also give back to the communities where we are based. All of our facilities get together for one week out of the year, and we do our own Clean Earth Day.” It’s a new company tradition that just started last year. Clean Earth Inc. has facilities in 14 states.

For this event, Mr. Donovan continued explaining, “we pick something in our area of operation that needs to be done, whether it’s cleaning up a creek, cleaning up a river; or, in this particular instance, they had a lot of old trees there that needed to come down from a safety standpoint, so … that’s in essence what we did.”

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Courtesy of CESF
A pair of workers use a bucket truck to reach one of many dead, low-hanging limbs on the old oak trees at the campground that were deemed to pose a hazard to campers.

The folks at Fisheating Creek Outpost were happy to see them, because the cleanup was intended in part to spruce up the park in preparation for the “Celebrate the Creek” festival set for the weekend of Oct. 19-20 there, when the FWC will unveil its new paddling trail map for Fisheating Creek. As an organization, Clean Earth believes that the protection and conservation of natural resources is of the utmost importance — to its communities, its stakeholders and the company’s business, he said.

Like Clean Earth, the Glades EDC strives, while creating jobs for Glades County residents, their children and grandchildren, to “preserve the quality of life that brought us here in the first place.” “So, it was natural for us to join EDC member business Clean Earth in organizing this event,” said Tracy Whirls, executive director.

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