SOMERSET, Ky. (Aug. 1, 2017) – The “PRIDE of the Cumberland,” a vessel operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is back hard at work today keeping Lake Cumberland’s waterways and shorelines clean and free of logs, debris and trash.
After two months of repairs to the vessel’s rudder, props, shaft, hull plate, and other upgrades, the PRIDE of the Cumberland is again making rounds on Lake Cumberland.
The vessel is based at the Waitsboro Recreation area and has been called upon more recently due to the heavy logs and debris in the lake.
The PRIDE of the Cumberland’s crew of three people, Rodney Koger, the PRIDE master tender, Christian Stringer, and Daniel Peyton, both general maintenance workers, work daily to remove miles of logs, debris and trash from Lake Cumberland making it safer and more enjoyable for visitors.
“This is a full time job and we really wonder where some of these items come from,” said Koger. “We pick up everything from old refrigerators, wheel and tires, docks, oil drums, coolers, grills, shoes, buckets, propane tanks and other debris that people leave behind or dispose,” said Koger.
The Pride of the Cumberland consists of two 60-foot-long barges pushed by the ‘PRIDE, a 26-foot-long tow boat. The starboard port side barge has a mechanical knuckle boom material handler with attachments for lifting heavy logs and large debris from the water or shore and skimming debris from the water. The port side barge holds a roll-off dumpster for debris collection and a wood chipper to mulch wood of all sizes.
Koger said the problem with debris has improved from what it was months ago due to water levels being high from recent heavy rains. The rain caused an unusual amount of logs and wood to float south into the curves and bends of the Waitsboro Recreation area.
After the rain, the summer heat caused the water to recede, leaving logs and debris perched on shoreline banks and placed around hard to reach areas behind trees.
Since coming back on line, the PRIDE of the Cumberland’s crew works eight hours a day scanning shorelines retrieving logs and debris. They all agree, it seems they never catch up.
Koger said the Waitsboro Recreation area near the highway 90 bridge, usually gets congested very quickly. He said early in the camping season, it caused the boat ramps to close because of debris and the Corps waived the $5 ramp fee.
“I wouldn’t have believed it until I saw it for myself, said Koger, but we cleared the entire shoreline, from the Waitsboro boat launch ramp to the bend, and within two hours, logs and debris floated in and blocked the ramp.
“A lot of debris has been pushed up on the shorelines as the lake level rose up over 700 feet above sea level over the last few months, and is gradually settling down, said Koger.
Judy Daulton, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park ranger said 4.5 million people visited Lake Cumberland last year. She said it is the ninth largest lake in the nation and this year’s vacation season has been busier than most.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates Lake Cumberland’s 50,000 square miles of shoreline are polluted with at least 200 tons of trash.
“If boaters and people that use the lake and recreation areas would just bring a small garbage bag and take it with them when they leave, it would help,” said Daulton. “The crew can’t pick up every piece of trash and scan the shores so we need everyone’s help to keep our lake clean.”
Koger said the “Pride’ compliments the efforts of thousands of volunteers who are already taking ‘Personal Responsibility’ by caring for the lake.
Lake Cumberland is one of the largest man-made lakes in the nation and each year millions of visitors travel from all over the United States to come enjoy the beauty of its 63,000 surface acres and 1,255 miles of wooded shoreline.
Jan and Earl Owens bought a house on the lake three years ago to be near their grandchildren. They spend almost every weekend on the lake and sees firsthand the eyesores from his dock near Burnside, Ky.
"When the water is up, you’ll liable to see anything,” said Owens. I've seen tires, propane tanks, coolers, plastic pop containers and antifreeze jugs.
“We are happy to see the 'Pride' back at work again and removing the logs and debris from the lake,” said Owens. “A log could tear up a boat real good and get someone hurt if they are not paying attention,” He added, “It sure does make us feel better knowing we have less chance of hitting one with them out here cleaning these things up.”
Koger said that the Corps receives requests mostly to remove dead trees and moves around to various marinas and locations where either complaints or requests have been made.
“Lake Cumberland is too large and presents too many hazards for just the Pride to get it all so it’s an all-volunteer effort,” said Koger.
Daulton said, all that waste has a dramatic impact on integrity of southeastern Kentucky’s environment. Cigarette butts and fishing line threaten wildlife and aquatic animals that mistake them for food.
The butt filters block their digestive tract, and the animals become ill or starve. Animals will also ingest hazardous compounds of cadmium, arsenic, lead and nicotine that are absorbed by the filters.
Lake Cumberland accumulates tons of human-imposed debris every season. The metals and plastic leach chemicals into the water and threaten the habitat for aquatic species and birds in Kentucky and beyond.
According to Daulton, cleaner campsites and shorelines will improve habitat and water quality, reduce mosquito breeding and populations of scavenger species (crows, squirrels, pigeons, rats) and provide more enjoyable recreation for all.
James and Faye Bowles, from Florida, own a boat and spend their summers at Lake Cumberland camping.
“We love this Lake, the friendly people and really care about keeping it clean,” said Faye Bowles. “We know pollution has a negative impact on the lake’s wildlife so we do all we can to pick up our trash and often encourage other too.”
Manuvering the ‘Pride’ against the shoreline for the knuckle mechanical handler to grab a loose 12-foot by 8-foot boat dock perched on shore," Koger said, "is the type of things we often see and try to keep out of the path of boaters, water skiers and jet skis.”
Koger said he is happy the “Pride” is back on Lake Cumberland and the Corps is always ready and willing to assist any area that needs help. “Our job is to help the public enjoy their visit here and be safe.”
For more news and information visit the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)