April 24 – May 2, 2021

Traverse City, MI – The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay is coordinating a series of shoreline cleanups around Grand Traverse Bay as part of the first annual Great Lakes CleanUP April 24- May 2, 2021. Registration for these events is free and open to the public at www.gtbay.org/events/great-lakes-cleanup.

Thanks to an Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant, The Watershed Center is partnering with Buffalo Niagara WATERKEEPER®, New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, Friends of the Detroit River, and Milwaukee RIVERKEEPER® to coordinate shoreline and near-shore cleanups to safeguard drinking water sources and critical habitats throughout the Great Lakes basin. This collaborative, volunteer-based project aims to remove 68 metric tons of trash from across 17,120 acres of Great Lakes shorelines by the end of 2022.

“We are honored that our friends at Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper are leading this coordinated effort across the Great Lakes basin,” said Grand Traverse BAYKEEPER® Heather Smith. “By removing trash along our shorelines, we are preventing man-made products such as plastics and other synthetic litter from threatening our drinking water and the health of fish and wildlife.”

Each year 22 million pounds of plastics enter the Great Lakes and poses a tremendous threat to the 40 million people that depend on the Great Lakes as a drinking water source and the hundreds of native species that live in and rely on the lakes. Plastic debris eventually breaks down into microplastics that bioaccumulate in fish and wildlife throughout the Great Lakes – from the largest sturgeon to the smallest microorganisms. Plastics also attract toxic chemicals such as PCBs that bind to plastic surfaces when present in water. 

The Watershed Center’s cleanups along the Grand Traverse Bay shoreline include Do-It-Yourself contactless cleanups from April 24 through May 2. Trash collection kits will be provided. The Watershed Center will also be hosting a series of organized, safe, public beach cleanups:

  • Saturday, May 1 at 10am at the City of Traverse City Volleyball Beach
  • Saturday, May 1 at 10am at the Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park Beach
  • Saturday, May 1 at 2pm at the Old Mission Lighthouse Park

Practical and effective safety guidelines will be implemented to ensure the wellbeing of all volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Facemasks and proper social distancing will be mandatory for public cleanup events.

The Watershed Center is supported in the Great Lakes CleanUP by its local partners: City of Traverse City, Elmwood Township, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Grand Traverse Freshwater Society, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Green Elk Rapids, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council, Peninsula Township, Surfrider Foundation Northern Michigan Chapter, and Village of Elk Rapids.

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