Celebrate Earth Day around Chattanooga with family fun or roll-up-your-sleeves effort

It may take more than a single cleanup tied to Earth Day to clear the mess that has accumulated at a homeless camp in Brainerd, but members of the South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Alliance and a cadre of community volunteers will initiate the effort Sunday.

(READ MORE: Bill puts Tennessee homeless people at risk for felony charges for camping on 'public' property such as parks)

Their appeal for help is not just for additional volunteers, but for four-wheel-drive trucks, a skid steer loader, a jon boat and climbers willing to rappel along the steep creekbank to retrieve debris.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga organizations consider building small shelters for homeless people)

Jim Ledbetter, an alliance member who frequently paddles South Chick, is coordinating the effort. In a telephone interview, he said he and a nearby property owner passed out flyers last week to the people who've been illegally camping on the property.

"We were basically asking them for their help in cleaning up the litter and cleaning up the trash, and they all agreed it was awful," Ledbetter said.

The accumulation of discarded shopping carts, tarps and sleeping bags predates the transients who've been there most recently, he said.

In a phone interview, Sandy Kurtz, chairwoman of the alliance and a board member of the nonprofit Urban Century Institute, which owns the 8-acre property, said the hope is to eventually use the land as a nature park and wildlife sanctuary.

(READ MORE: City of Chattanooga working to remove downtown homeless)

- Citywide cleanup and "plogging": Chattanooga residents are asked to muster at any of the city's community centers to help pick up litter 9-11 a.m. Saturday. Gloves, bags and trash grabbers will be provided. The area community centers are Avondale, John A. Patton, Tyner, Brainerd, South Chattanooga, Hixson, Heritage House and the Parks and Outdoors headquarters on Watkins Street. Residents who enjoy a daily jog can participate in a "plogging" event, a mixture of light jogging and picking up litter, at East Lake Park at 9 a.m. at the gazebos. Ploggers will have a police escort on the one-mile circuit. Register: cha.city/earthday

- Community Cleanup Challenge: Keep Soddy-Daisy Beautiful is behind the inaugural event to motivate area residents, schools, clubs, churches and businesses to fight litter in Hamilton County. Through Monday, teams can choose a location and time to pick up litter. Bags, gloves and safety vests are provided with registration. Prizes will be awarded for most litter retrieved, most bizarre item found and best-themed team. cbaip.org

- GreenGrace Environmental Action Team will celebrate Earth Day with a Plant Swap & Giveaway 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at Grace Episcopal Church, 20 Belvoir Ave., coinciding with the season opening of the Brainerd Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-noon. saygrace.net

(Chattanooga-area farmers markets prepping for the season's first crops)

- GreenSpaces starts its Earth Day celebration 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Friday (which is Earth Day) at Miller Park, 928 Market St., with an Eco Field Day in which corporate teams will compete in eco-themed field games, including a tug-of-war with a giant power cable supplied by EPB, which will provide free parking all day in its garage across the street. A festival with 20 sustainability vendors, local musicians, food trucks and breweries follows 2-7 p.m. greenspaceschattanooga.org

(READ MORE: Chattanooga Market, Cornbread Festival among Chattanooga-area weekend events)

- Museum Center at Five Points, 200 E. Inman St., Cleveland, Tenn., will host its first Coffee With a Curator of the year at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by a community trash pickup around downtown. (Bring gloves; trash bags provided.) Leading the program is a young Chattanooga conservationist, Cash Daniels, a Top 5 honoree for Time Magazine Kid of the Year. Participation is free, but registration is requested. The museum will be open until 3 p.m. for Family Day activities with discounted admission (free for children, $3.50 for adults). museumcenter.org

- Creative Discovery Museum, 321 Chestnut St., will offer hands-on activities that teach environmental lessons noon-4 p.m. Saturday. Activities by museum staff and guest presenters are included in the $13 admission (discounted while the second floor is being renovated). Timed entry tickets are required. cdmfun.org

- Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center, 400 Garden Road, plans the next in a series of Weed Wrangles 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. Volunteers will be put to work with weed wrenches battling invasive species around the property. Registration is requested. reflectionriding.org

- Rock City, 1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, Ga., concludes its EarthDayz celebration 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Included are living ground, living magnolia and living vine characters, music performances, themed food and animal shows. Admission is $18-$28. Timed entry tickets are required. seerockcity.com

- South Chickamauga Creek Greenway Alliance has scheduled a cleanup of a former homeless camp 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at 100 Old Birds Mill Road in Brainerd (near Sir Goony's Family Fun Center). Adult volunteers (18 and older) are needed to assist with removing trash, which may include some hazardous material, as well as the possibility of encountering poison ivy, bugs, mud and snakes. Gloves, long-handled grabbers, heavy-duty trash bags, hand sanitizer and a portable toilet will be provided, and there will be a food truck, live music and sheltered seating for downtime. Also needed are four-wheel-drive pickups, a skid steer loader (Bobcat), jon boat and driver, and climbers with rappelling gear. Waivers must be signed to participate. Register by Saturday: JimLed@iCloud.com

Contact Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6281.