Spring cleaning the shore

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 14, 2014

ST. CLAIR SHORES — The harsh winter has left more than just warmth-seeking residents behind.

It’s left trash and debris stirred up by winter winds lining the coast of Lake St. Clair. And that’s why the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee is looking for residents willing to volunteer to help clean up the shoreline during the 19th annual Nautical Coast Cleanup, set this year to begin at 8 a.m. May 18.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done at Veterans (Memorial Park Beach), that’s for sure,” said Dave Rubello, a member of the committee.

Committee Chairman Joe St. John said volunteers can show up at 8 a.m. at the Jefferson Yacht Club, 24504 Jefferson Ave., to register and enjoy a continental breakfast. Volunteers can then decide which of the four target areas they’d like to help clean: the beaches at Veterans Memorial Park and Blossom Heath Park, the coastline of Champine Park at the end of 12 Mile Road, or the Chapaton Retention Basin near Nine Mile Road.

“Usually, people go to a meaningful spot,” St. John said. “Some people, they want to clean 12 Mile because that’s their destination.”

Buses will take volunteers to the cleaning locations, and there will be tools on site for them to use, although those wanting to bring their own tools and gloves are also welcome to do so.

“They’ll probably rake the beach or pick up debris or maybe rake a fenceline of leaves from the winter … for a couple hours, and then they’ll come back,” he said.

After the cleanup at the JYC will be a barbecue with hotdogs and chips, music, and more from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. for the volunteers.

“We want to protect it — that’s the big thing,” St. John said. “That lake gets bad-mouthed a lot, but it’s a beautiful natural resource for St. Clair Shores and we need to protect it.”

He said because St. Clair Shores’ shoreline is mostly seawall, the few spots of natural beach seem to attract a lot of debris and seaweed.

“We want to get it cleaned up before the summer season,” he said.

How many volunteers show up usually depends on the day’s weather, he said, but about 200-300 people come clean the coast each year. Committee members are always willing to sign community service sheets for students that have required hours, as well, he said.

Rubello said the event is always a great family day.

“This is a great way to give back to your community,” he said.

Over the past 18 years, the cleanup has removed more than 610 tons of debris from the shoreline. It is held rain or shine, so volunteers should come dressed for the weather.

For more information, visit the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee on Facebook or head to their website at angelfire.com/mi4/scswateradvisory.