Recently, the Grand River Environmental Action Team (GREAT) held its 28th cleanup of the Grand River from 127 South to the subdivision off Lansing Avenue is known as bird land. The group had 24 canoes in the river and people walking along the banks for a total of 65 volunteers.
Volunteers included members of GREAT, Junior ROTC, and people from as far away as Ann Arbor. Most people volunteer for the event due to a love of the Grand River and a commitment to protect it. This year the number of volunteers was down from their usual 100-plus, likely due to questionable weather.
Tires are one of the largest groups of objects removed from the river every year, probably because people must pay to dispose of them. This year was no different. Volunteers find the many tires, as well as other trash objects, and haul them into their canoes. Then they paddle down the river to a drop off location where dumpsters are waiting. In addition to tires, cigarette lighters are the other most common object found.
Some of the most memorable items found this year include an old gas station sign, metal toy trucks from the 30s and 40s, and a stolen safe that was turned over to the police who was able to locate the owner from the birth certificate located inside. In years past, the group has pulled everything out of the river from shopping carts, safes, and industrial metal to the never-ending supply of used tires.
This year, 10 cubic yards of trash total was pulled out of the river. To put this into perspective 10 cubic yards is the equivalent to over 2,000 liquid gallons. One cubic yard of dirt weighs 2,000 pounds. The 10 cubic yards of trash from Saturday could weigh up to 20,000 pounds. This was all dumped into the river during this past year.
The good news is, according to GREAT board president Kenny Price, is that for the past several years the amount of trash found and removed from the river during this cleanup has declined.
“You can see through the river to the bottom in most places,” he said.
Price and the rest of the GREAT board would like to thank and recognize their many sponsors and volunteers. Without their help, this vital cleanup would not be possible.
GREAT is also asking for your assistance in keeping the river clean. If you see people dumping, please call the local authorities.
To learn more about the Grand River Environmental Action Council, visit great-mi.org. In addition to being an environmental group, GREAT is also a paddling group and holds events throughout the year to promote paddling some of the area’s amazing waterways, including the Grand.