Mission Point Lighthouse on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
Mission Point Lighthouse on the Old Mission Peninsula | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Looking to get outside and get some fresh air? Maybe pick up a little trash along the beach while you’re at it? Here’s your chance!

A beach cleanup is scheduled for this Saturday at 2 p.m. along the shores of Mission Point Lighthouse. All you have to do is register here and show up at the Lighthouse at 2 p.m. Trash collection kits will be provided.

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It’s part of an initiative out of the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay. The organization is coordinating a series of shoreline cleanups around Grand Traverse Bay as part of the first annual Great Lakes CleanUP from April 24 to May 2, 2021.

A Collaborative Effort

The event is also taking place thanks to an Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant. Our local 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.

The volunteer-based collaborative has a goal of removing 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.

She adds, “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.”

Watershed Center hosts beach cleanup at Mission Point Lighthouse | Watershed Photo
Watershed Center hosts beach cleanup at Mission Point Lighthouse | Watershed Photo

Distressing Trash Numbers

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.

Other Local Beach Cleanups

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.

Along with our Lighthouse beach cleanup, there are two other cleanups scheduled for Saturday: City of Traverse City Bolleyball Beach and the Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park Beach. Both of those will take place at 10 a.m.

And of course, Covid-19 protocols, including masks and social distancing, will be implemented to ensure the safety of all volunteers.

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.

For more info on the Watershed Center, visit their website here.

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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