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Coast Guard Enlists Alliance, Public in Michigan Beach Trash Investigation
The Alliance is assisting the U.S. Coast Guard in its investigation to identify the source of tons of trash washing up inex-plicably along the Lake Michigan shoreline in West Michigan.
Offering assistance through its Adopt-a-Beach™ program, the Alliance is calling on its West Michigan beach adopters and any other members of the public willing to help clean up the debris and collect information to share with the Coast Guard as it works to identify the source.
“The Alliance needs our volunteers and as many others as possible to help remove the trash from the shoreline, record findings and look for items that will help identify the source of the debris,” said Jamie Cross, Alliance Adopt-a-Beach™ coordinator in Michigan.
The Coast Guard investigation seeks to determine the source of the debris – most of it street litter such as food wrappers, beverage containers and balloons – that was first reported washing up in Sleeping Bear Dunes in mid-June.
The initial reports from Sleeping Bear Dunes have been followed by reports of a large wash-up of debris in Manistee, and of trash washing up in Muskegon and Allegan County. Thus far, Manistee appears to have received the brunt of the trash, but other communities are also dealing with abnormally high amounts of litter washing up on their beaches.
“While we are asking for the public's assistance, we want to remind everyone to take the proper precautions when handling trash,” said Lt. David M. French, Ninth Coast Guard District external affairs officer.
“Photographs of dangerous material and items with identifiable information help us to identify possible sources,” said French. He urged that anyone finding this type of trash report it immediately to the Coast Guard Investigative Service at: 586-307-6759 through Friday, July 25, and 586-239-6759 thereafter.
Local Alliance Adopt-a-Beach™ teams, already trained in collecting trash and water quality data as part of regular cleanups and general beach stewardship, responded immediately to the wash-up in Sleeping Bear Dunes and Muskegon -- with many heading out on their own.
“We’d like to send a special thank you to Adopt-a-Beach™ teams in Sleeping Bear Dunes for acting quickly and removing trash washing ashore in the national park,” Cross said, acknowledging similar efforts by Muskegon Save Our Shoreline at Muskegon’s Pere Marquette Park.
Cross said individuals and private beach owners have also contacted the Alliance asking how to help.
“Maybe this is a vehicle that can help those people who are out there already picking up trash to be a part of this broader investigation,” she said.
Since 1991 the Alliance has been working with volunteers to engage in litter pickup as part of the Adopt-a-Beach™ program, now nearly 5,000 volunteers strong and active on four of the five Great Lakes. Information gathered by beach adopters is used in pollution prevention and education.
Anyone interested in picking up trash and recording their findings to assist the West Michigan effort should contact Cross at the Alliance, toll-free at 866-850-0745 ext. 12, or email@example.com. The Adopt-a-Beach™ Program is supported by the Michigan Coastal Management Program and private foundations.