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Alabama Power volunteers support Renew Our Rivers cleanup on the Coosa River

More Renew Our Rivers cleanups are scheduled across the state into early November.

With fall officially here and cooler weather taking hold, volunteers are doing their part to enhance Alabama’s natural beauty and protect the environment during the final stretch of Renew Our Rivers cleanups for the year.

Last week, volunteers with the Eastern Division chapter of the Alabama Power Service Organization (APSO) removed a trailer full of trash from Neely Henry Lake on the Coosa River in Gadsden.

“It’s important to the state of Alabama, just for the recreation that it brings in with boating, fishing, people building houses on the lakes,” said Tim McLean, an environmental specialist for Alabama Power who attended the cleanup.

“I think it’s got a big economic impact on the cities that are on it,” McLean said of Neely Henry, which also serves as a source of water for generating hydroelectric power.

“As far as hydro power, it’s very clean power. They can turn it on really quick — there’s no startup time. So, it’s important to keep our waterways clean,” he said.

APSO volunteers return from picking up trash along the banks of the Coosa River. (Joey Blackwell / Alabama News Center)

McLean joined a group of about 30 APSO volunteers on three boats that cruised the Coosa River. They plucked trash directly from the waterway, and disembarked in areas where garbage was more prevalent to clean sections of the riverbank.

After just three hours on the water, the boats reconvened at Coosa Landing and offloaded enough trash to fill a lengthy trailer to its top.

Dana McFarland works as a community relations specialist in Alabama Power’s Eastern Division and joined in the cleanup.

“This is very important to me,” McFarland said. “Just going out and doing the different things we did. And it may seem like we were just on boats and riding around, but to see the trash and the things float in the river and just affect our environment, it was very important for me to do that.”

Dana McFarland doing her part to keep the Coosa River clean. (Joey Blackwell / Alabama News Center)

In addition to volunteering for Renew Our Rivers cleanups, McLean said that there are other ways people can do their part to keep the river and communities cleaner.

“I think a lot of the trash that we pick up on the rivers, a lot of it comes from roadways,” McLean said. “You throw something in the back of your truck, it can blow out. It’s a lot of other things.”

Since Renew Our Rivers began with a cleanup on the Coosa River in Gadsden in 2000, over 117,000 volunteers have cleared more than 16 million pounds of trash from waterways across the Southeast.

Several more Renew Our Rivers cleanups are scheduled through October and into early November, so there’s still time to get involved. To learn more about Renew Our Rivers and view the remaining schedule of 2023 cleanups, click here.

To learn more about community volunteerism by Alabama Power employees and retirees, visit For more information about the company’s environmental stewardship efforts, click here.