High-water events have caused litter to float down from eastern Kentucky, where the Kentucky River begins. Collected along the banks is such trash as plastic bottles, tires, styrofoam, aluminum cans, motor oil cans and insecticide.
People who fish from the dam or the beach also throw trash in the water or along the banks, Epperson said.
The worst area for trash to collect is across from the dam, at Lock 10 just upriver from the beach. The current pushes trash coming downriver over to the rocks on the Clark County side when the water is high. As the water goes down, the trash remains among the rocks.
"It's a natural filter," Epperson said.
The Kentucky River Authority, which is in charge of the event for the state, had its first cleanup of the Kentucky River and its tributaries in 1991. In 1997, the authority partnered with the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, or ORSANCO, an organization that operates water quality improvement programs along the Ohio River and its tributaries, of which the Kentucky is one.
Epperson said events like the annual River Sweep do make a difference.
"Could you imagine if it was never cleaned?" he said. Several hundred thousand pounds of trash would be on the river banks now, he said.
Fewer large items are now found along the river.
Dan Foley, a boat captain with the Boonesborough Boat Club, said that when the River Sweep began 16 years ago, cars and appliances, which had to be lifted out with a crane, were found on the river banks. An abandoned boat is on the bank today.
Sue Elliston, River Sweep coordinator for the Kentucky River Authority has seen much improvement in the 14 years she has worked with the event.
"I have seen a tremendous difference in the amount of garbage we have been picking up," she said.
Epperson would like to see at least 150 people from Clark and Madison counties join the clean-up.
"It should be an educational experience," he said. He expects the cleanup to open volunteers' eyes to the extent of the problem.
"When you have people pick up litter, they usually don't litter," he said.
Transportation for volunteers from Fort Boonesborough Beach will be provided by the Boonesorough Boat Club.
Volunteers are asked to wear sturdy shoes or boots, hats, sunscreen, insect repellent and protective clothing. Volunteers are also asked to bring gloves if possible. Trash bags will be provided.
All volunteers will get a T-shirt, and there will be a cookout around noon on the beach.
Volunteers can call Epperson at 745-7415 or Elliston at (502) 564-2866 for more information.