BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Volunteers from communities in Tennessee, New York and Wisconsin pulled just under 18,200 pounds of trash from the ramps and shores of Chickamauga Lake, Pickwick Lake, Oneida Lake and the Mississippi River as part of the 2022 Bassmaster Lake Clean-Up Challenges sponsored by AFTCO and Yamaha RightwatersTM.
While the majority of the 254 volunteers across the four Clean-Up Challenges were from community organizations and local high school and college teams, a variety of Elite Series anglers and even legendary angler and television personality Bill Dance joined in on the conservation efforts.
Participants received a gift package from AFTCO and Yamaha Rightwaters. Plus, AFTCO and Yamaha Rightwaters pledged $25,000 in conservation grants to be shared among the participating organizations.
The three Lake Clean-Up Challenges at Chickamauga, Pickwick and the Mississippi River in the La Crosse, Wis., area were timed to allow Elite Series pros to join volunteers in protecting the fisheries where they compete. Jason Christie, Jeff Gustafson, Taku Ito, Carl Jocumsen, Luke Palmer, Chad Pipkens, Matty Wong and Jay Yelas all took to the shoreline to collect trash during the events. Efforts like the Lake Clean-Up Challenges are particularly important to these pros, who recognize the opportunity to make an even bigger impact on the river and our sport by showing how important it is to help these environments thrive.
“If everyone does their part, we can help control and even alleviate the issue with trash on our lakes. But it has to be a team effort,” said Christie.
Putting trash in its place was also a key part of Dance’s message to outdoor enthusiasts. Dance joined the group at Pickwick Lake in Tennessee as they weighed in their haul of debris, pleading with every angler and boater to carry a trash bag with them on outings and pick up whatever trash they find, “Leaving it cleaner than you found it.”
According to statistics from Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, 80% of trash pulled from waterways originated on land, making cleanup efforts at ramps and parks adjacent to waterways even more critical for the long-term health of American fisheries.
“Thriving fish populations start with clean water. Left untouched, some of the waste collected would have become a permanent part of our food chain,” explained AFTCO President Casey Shedd. “We’re making progress and much more continues to be needed to address the problem before it gets to our waterways.”
And while initiatives like community cleanups are growing in popularity, New York B.A.S.S. Nation Technical Director Mike Arndt reports that, during the Clean-Up Challenge held in conjunction with the St. Croix Bassmaster Open at Oneida Lake presented by Mossy Oak Fishing, he saw noticeable improvements, including fewer large items, like tires, in the lake.
“When I was younger, we pulled out lots of tires and other large stuff,” Arndt said. “We didn’t do that this time. This was a cool testament for a 10-year span. We’re going in the right direction.”
“Events like this underscore the importance of the role we all have to play in keeping our waterways clean,” said John O’Keefe, senior specialist, government relations, Yamaha U.S. Marine Business Unit. “Organizations like B.A.S.S. and Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, along with many B.A.S.S. Nation team members and volunteers, really helped to set the example for other outdoor enthusiasts by participating. The Yamaha Rightwaters team looks forward to supporting future cleanup events with this dedicated group.”
For more information on B.A.S.S. Conservation efforts, visit Bassmaster.com/Conservation.
B.A.S.S., which encompasses the Bassmaster tournament leagues, events and media platforms, is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), TV show, radio show, social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.
The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, St. Croix Bassmaster Opens Series presented by Mossy Oak Fishing, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Strike King Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Abu Garcia Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Team Championship, Yamaha Rightwaters Bassmaster Kayak Series powered by TourneyX, Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic.
Media Contact: Emily Harley, B.A.S.S. Communications Manager, 205-313-0945 (o), email@example.com