The Pearl River is getting a facelift on Sept. 23 from one end to the other, and the Navy veteran and kayaker organizing it hopes to mobilize volunteers to be a part of the inaugural “Pearl River Clean Sweep.”
A team of Scouts from Marion County will be working from the Columbia Water Park, and other volunteers are encouraged to participate.
It’s easy to help, said Abby Braman, a former Navy helicopter pilot and a marine science major.
“You don’t have to be in charge; you just show up and we’ll hand you the bags,” the Madison resident said. “Hopefully, we’ll have free T-shirts for everybody and you can clean up for as long or as short as you like.”
The idea started when Braman and her family moved to Madison in July 2016 and she began noticing trash in a local creek and decided to do something about it. From those humble beginnings, she has formed Take2 Miss to sponsor the cleanup.
“I enjoy kayaking the Pearl River and I have Brasher’s Creek that runs near my neighborhood and I started noticing a real problem with plastic pollution - plastic bottles and Styrofoam cups everywhere,” she said. “I started posting my pictures on Instagram of what I was finding and collecting. I did a few different things and basically found a community of people doing the same thing all over the world. That’s when I started Take2 Miss, encouraging people to pick up two pieces of litter and snap a picture and post it to make it kind of a community thing.”
The social media sharing connected Braman with Jessica Gauley of Pearl River, La., who lives at the opposite end of the Pearl River.
“She’s been doing cleanups on the river for the last six year,” Braman said. “She said, ‘Hey, let’s just do one giant cleanup,’ and that’s our plan. We want to cleanup from the headwaters in Nanih Waiya down through the Ross Barnett Reservoir and down south, including the Strong River, which is a tributary of the Pearl. We’re going to be at the D’Lo Water Park; we’re getting people involved on the Bogue Chitto River. Right now we have more than 20 teams deployed along the river.”
One of those teams is being set up in Marion County.
“We have a team that is going to be based at the Columbia Water Park,” Braman said. “Kristi Raynes is the site leader there. She is part of Girl Scout Troop 3825. One of the things we are doing is that any Girl Scout or Boy Scout that participates will get a Pearl River patch for their participation. I’ve had a lot of interest from the Scouts.”
It is easy to help, according to Braman.
“Basically, you can go to the website, www.take2ms.com,” she said. “The list of all 20-plus locations is listed on the website and you can see what is closest to you so you can register for that site. There are land and water-based locations. Some of the water-based locations like we are doing in Leake and Scott counties, kayak companies have donated use of kayaks for the cleanups. In other locations, you could bring your own kayaks.”
The event could become annual, according to Braman.
“Basically the Pearl River and its tributaries at as many locations as we can have it,” she said. “We started with two locations, Jessica’s and mine, in six weeks, we’ve added 18 more. It’s possible we will have some more locations before Sept. 23 rolls around.”
Pictured Above: Volunteers are already cleaning up portions of the Pearl River near Jackson. A Madison woman hopes a Sept. 23 cleanup will cover the entire river from Mississippi through Louisiana. | Submitted Photo