SOMERSET, Ky. (WTVQ) – Protecting Lake Cumberland’s 1,200 miles of shoreline from miles of used fishing line is the goal of Somerset-Pulaski County’s newest recycling initiative.
Inspired by local student Jade Grabeel, who initiated a similar project in Warren County while attending Western Kentucky University, three local organizations have come together to design and install monofilament fishing line recycling containers at every boat ramp in Pulaski County.
Sixteen containers have been installed so far, which include signage encouraging anglers to dispose of their fishing line in the receptacle instead of tossing it in the water or on the ground.
The project’s partners — the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA), Lake Cumberland Tourism and the Pulaski County Recycling Center — hope the containers will not only keep the lake clean but also increase safety.
Monofilament is a single strand of material made of strong, flexible plastic and is one of the most popular types of fishing line. Clear or tinted, monofilament is inexpensive and easy to use for anglers, but can often break from a large fish or by getting snagged on unintended objects like rocks or tree limbs.
Monofilament is not biodegradable — and because it is thin and clear, can pose a safety risk to boat drivers, divers and swimmers when it is discarded in the water. Animals can also become entangled in the line or mistakenly ingest it.
“Being the Capital of Lake Cumberland is not anything we take lightly,” said Chris Girdler, president and CEO of SPEDA, which paid for the containers. “While this initiative may seem small, it is an example of leading the way in taking care of our lake and encouraging others to do the same. It is exciting to know that every boat ramp in Pulaski County will provide the opportunity for residents to be good stewards of the environment and a convenient way for anglers to recycle their fishing line. I’m appreciative to Danny Masten at the Pulaski Recycle Center, Michelle Allen at Lake Cumberland Tourism, Judge Steve Kelley and Mayor Alan Keck for their continued dedication to leading the way in all initiatives, big or small.”
The Pulaski County Recycling Center will maintain the containers. Because monofilament is a high-density plastic, it cannot be put in household recycling and requires a special process. Monofilament collected from local containers will be shipped to Berkley Pure Fishing in Iowa. Berkley melts the line into raw plastic pellets that can be made into other plastic products, like tackle boxes, spools for line, fish habitats, and toys.
After seeing Grabeel’s success with her project in Warren County, Pulaski County Solid Waste Coordinator Danny Masten said he began to reach out to local partners to try to do the same locally.
“I am thankful for SPEDA’s openness and Chris Girdler’s passion to see this project become a reality,” Masten said. “We continue to move Pulaski County forward and look for new and fresh ideas to protect our environment. I am thankful to play a small role in this project.”
Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley said this project is an extension of SPEDA’s commitment to making Pulaski County a better place — “from moving mountains for infrastructure, to leveling ground for industry, to investing seed money into local entrepreneurs, to installing fishing line receptacles at our boat ramps.”
“This is helping to instill pride into those that visit our lake and it shows that nothing is too big or too small when it comes to improving the quality of life in Pulaski County,” Kelley said.
Lake Cumberland Tourism Director Michelle Allen said this project also demonstrates the community’s commitment to innovation.
“The Capital of Lake Cumberland continues to think outside of the box,” Allen said. “Economic organizations, governments and private entities realize there’s not just one facet to creating quality of life for our citizens. The importance of these receptacles is not just about bettering our community for our 4 million visitors — it’s about creating a sense of pride and purpose in our community.”
And by doing that, we can make a significant difference in Somerset and Pulaski County, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said.
“On the surface, it is just a tube that holds plastic fishing line, but it represents something much greater — a community coming together to support its residents, its visitors, and its environment,” Keck said. “When we’re taking care of one another and being good stewards of this beautiful place we call home, we can make a huge difference. We’re doing that on every level.”