Cleaner Rivers: Thank You Volunteers!

Jill Detwiler – Water Resource Coordinator

Paddlers and anglers are familiar with the weird things found in rivers: tires, pallets, old propane tanks, and piles of endless trash (that is usually plastic). Human waste degrades the quality and aesthetics of rivers throughout Clinton County, and there is no designated entity that cleans it up. The work of volunteers – including groups such as Friends of the Looking Glass and Friends of the Maple River – are some of our biggest stewards when it comes to keeping our rivers clear of trash.

As a “thank you” to the volunteer river stewards in our community, Clinton Conservation District is offering free stream clean-up kits available for pick up at our office for volunteers to keep. Each kit contains essential items for any type of river clean-up: garbage bags, gloves, hand sanitizer, bug repellant, sunscreen, a first aid kit, and a map of public access sites along the Looking Glass River, all packaged inside of a drawstring backpack. We also have grabbers available for check-out that are helpful for snagging hard-to-reach trash. You do not need to be a part of an organization to take home a stream kit, just someone who wants to make a difference! Call our office if you are interested in picking up a kit for you or your group.

The stream clean-up kits were inspired by a Looking Glass River clean-up event on August 15 that was coordinated by a partnership between Clinton Conservation District and Friends of the Looking Glass River (FOLG) and funded by Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps). Other groups such as the Friends of the Maple River (FOMR), Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, and the Clinton County Parks and Greenspaces Committee helped promote this event, which led to participation by 35 volunteers. Together, volunteers and partners removed nearly 1,400 pounds of garbage from the Looking Glass River. An old propane tank was one of the biggest items pulled from the river.

We can measure the valuable impact of stream clean-up events like the one on August 15 by weighing and categorizing the trash that is removed from the river, but it’s also the little things people do – like disposing garbage when we see it or cleaning up after our pets – that makes a world of difference.