Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day, the Recap

This is what it looked like as Barbara Abbott and Larry Hauser sifted charcoal and debris from the beach sand. It wasn't the best setup, but they still made remarkable progress. The Fellows family took most of the sophomore class and covered North Beach and the harbor. The Busheys walked down to Whaleback and then took off to cover Good Harbor Bay. I scoured the bushes waiting for the kids to come back and found lots of beer bottles, some still full.

Ours was part of an effort that spanned the great lakes. In all:
  • 81 teams participated at 102 locations on all five Great Lakes
  • 2,400 volunteers shared in the experience and the cleanup
  • 8,059 pounds of debris were removed and catalogued
  • 139 beach health assessment forms were completed and are now available to help pinpoint potential pollution sources
 I've been policing Van's beach most of the summer, and others have as well. I think the situation is better than it was in years past, but I hesitate to take much credit.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Van's Beach Questions

I was asked to organize a beach cleanup and Vans Beach immediately came to mind. Vans is a well loved beach,perhaps too well loved. The Leland Township office receives many complaints about trash and other issues on that beach, although we send the harbor workers over almost daily in the summer to police the area. On summer evenings you will find dozens of people enjoying the cool air, watching the sunset, walking the beach as darkness sets in and gathering around campfires late into the night. In the morning, even though our visitors are a mostly mannerly group, we often find the remains of the evening before, clothing, trash, even the still hot campfires buried under sand and waiting to burn the feet of this morning's beach goers.

Of course there are yahoos everywhere. We don't know how or why someone managed to burn down a port-o-john one summer. You shouldn't tear down a split rail fence for firewood. Why do people feel compelled to move fire rings to a new spot before they start their own fire? Why, when the lake is so near, do people bury their hot coals instead of extinguishing them?

This well loved beach is the subject of much discussion in town board and parks and rec commission meetings. Maybe we should close the beach after 11 pm? Ban fires? Ban alcohol? Put in more fire rings? Remove the fire rings? Do we need more trash receptacles? Should we buy a beach cleaning machine? Should we hire a village cop? There are philosophical debates about why people do bad things to our beautiful township and many theories on how to stop them. People blame Fudgies, Locals, and Other People's Kids. There is discussion of the role of township government and how many tax dollars, if any, we should be using to protect a non-essential asset like a beautiful beach. Discussions of purely practical issues (how many portajohns do we need?) alternate with the anguish of the ages (why can't people take care of things?)

It's frustrating. Most blessings are. So, we're off to clean the beach. Sometimes it's refreshing to leave the philosophy aside and just get the job done, even if it won't last forever.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Earth Day Beach Cleanup!

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Next Sunday is Earth Day. All who are willing and able will meet at noon at Van's Beach in Leland to pick up and document trash. Bring gloves and rakes if possible, also snow sleds in case there is large trash to haul. Rain date will be April 29. If you sign up by commenting below, it will help me to know how many trash bags and clipboards to bring.
We will work until about 4 pm. If we get enough help, I would like to cover the beach all the way south to the beginning of the Leelanau Conservancy's preserve on Whaleback. If we have more people, there is always more beach.