There are eleven major lakes along the Catawba-Wateree River basin. The river stretches from Lake James in the North Carolina mountain foothills down to Lake Wateree in South Carolina. Multiple Covekeeper advocacy groups strive to monitor each of these eleven lakes for shoreline pollution, soil erosion and other environmental concerns. The Lake Wylie Covekeepers are “the original group,” says Dan Mullane.
“The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation [parent organization of the Covekeepers] stemmed from the original Lake Wylie group. Which is really interesting,” says Dan. “We have the most history within the foundation. Some of our current members and past members have been with the organization a long time.”
A 6-year member of the Lake Wylie Covekeepers, Dan Mullane is in his third year as the official Lake Wylie Lakekeeper. Dan has lived around Lake Wylie in both Belmont and the Steele Creek area. He is a life-long outdoors enthusiast. “If I’m not working then I’m fishing,” explains Dan.
By far the Lake Wylie Covekeepers largest community presence is the annual Lake Wylie Riversweep event. Usually held on a Saturday in the fall, the event draws many locals including families and kids who come together to help collect trash and debris on Lake Wylie. The Covekeepers host a number of educational events and social functions throughout the year as well.
A fun community outreach program is a youth kayaking event. “We have about 30 kayaks,” says Dan. “In the summer we will take kids out on Lake Wylie and get them exposed to the water. We try to make them aware of the importance of water quality and our mission in general.”
The Covekeepers host paddling trips on Lake Wylie and down the Catawba River. Nearby Covekeeper groups will also visit one another. “We do a rotating paddling event with the Lake Norman Covekeepers and Mountain Island Lake Covekeepers,” says Dan. “Just because they’re on Lake Norman and we’re on Lake Wylie doesn’t matter. We are all in it for the same mission. We want to come together and interact with everyone involved.”
In November the group celebrated with a Thanksgiving party at Triple C Brewing Company in Charlotte. “We handed out awards for best volunteer and highlighted success stories over the past year. Emilee [Emilee Syrewicze, Executive Director, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation] has been a strong supporter of our social events.”
Speaking about membership opportunities and roles within the Covekeepers Dan states, “We all feel like we really work together. Since this is volunteered base there’s nobody holding your hand to the fire, but we do offer a course called Muddy Water Watch Citizen Patrol.”
“The Muddy Water class keeps people up to date on erosion, settlement control and development,” explains Dan. “During the class members learn about the buffer zone, what trees or vegetation people are allowed to move around and other things. It’s a one-day training event, and it’s fair to say that everybody who is a Covekeeper has gone through this training.”
The Lake Wylie Covekeepers also offer a boater safety course to members. “We have a boat docked at Lake Wylie marina. New members get to go out on the boat with CD Collins and learn about boating safety.”
“This guy is a real champ,” continues Dan. “CD is head of our used boats unit. Folks will donate old boats and trailers to our group, either for tax purposes or they just don’t want them anymore. CD fills up his yard with these misfit boats. Then he and some other members will fix up the boats and re-sell them. The proceeds go to the foundation. This year we raised $18,000 cleaning up old boats which was the most successful year I know of.”
To give some perspective on their efforts… The drive from Charlotte to Charleston is 200 miles. Charlotte to Atlanta is 250 miles. Charlotte to Richmond – 300 miles.
There are 325 miles of Lake Wylie shoreline. Our Lake Wylie Covekeepers cover a lot of ground and have a lot of fun along the way. We are fortunate to have them around.
Get in on the action and meet some new friends. Learn more about the Lake Wylie Covekeepers. Find ways to get involved with your local Covekeeper group. Visit: http://www.catawbariverkeeper.org/