County lake officials teamed up Thursday with 40 Marion Girl Scouts to beautify the shoreline of Marion County Lake.
The scouts planned to paint log dividers at the swimming area parking lot, but with the deluge last week changed their plans.
Lake officials provided sticks and trash bags to clean up trash that floated in on rising lake water.
“It is going to count as their service project for this year,” scout leader Sherry Hess said. “Some of the older girls built bat houses, too.”
Scouts started at the heated dock and worked their way north to the swimming area.
They formed pairs and took turns using sticks to pick up soggy bottles, cans, cups, papers and driftwood. One pair even disposed of a ratty shirt and a beat-up hat.
“We love service projects,” Ericka Herzet said. “That’s why we’re in Girl Scouts.”
While the scouts were picking up trash, Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson strapped on a lifejacket, got in the water near the dam and unclogged a tower drain.
Hudson could tell the drain was obstructed because the burp-hole south of the damn was only gurgling.
“When it is working correctly after a heavy rain, it looks like Old Faithful,” he said.
Logs, sticks, duckweed, small bushes, and brush had slowed flow from the lake.
The debris was hard for him to clean up because it matted like hair.
“Last night I had to take a shower in the bath house before I showered off in my house,” he said.
Hudson also had to be aware of suction near the drain.
“I tied my shorts pretty tight,” he said, “This thing can suck you in. The higher the water is the more pressure there is. Sometimes fish are sucked in and come shooting out the other side.”
The lake pool level was 2 feet above normal when Hudson began his clearing. It dropped 6 inches within the first 20 hours afterward.