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September 19, 2012

Watershed council depends on volunteers to help the Clinton River

By Brad D. Bates
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Olivia Chambers, 13, of Lake Orion, and Sam Paquette, 13, of Lake Orion, help clean up Heritage Park in Utica Sept. 8 as part of the Clinton River Clean-Up Day.

UTICA — The Clinton River Watershed Council’s mission is “to protect, enhance, and celebrate the Clinton River, its watershed, and Lake St. Clair.”

But it can’t do it without a little help from members of the communities that are enriched by the presence of the 83-mile waterway stretching from wetlands in Springfield Township to Lake St. Clair in Harrison Township.

“They’re always looking for volunteers for those activities,” Utica Department of Public Works Superintendent Bill Lang said of the CRWC’s programs that monitor the river’s environment. “And it all has to do with water quality. ”

Volunteers are the backbone of such maintenance programs as the Clinton River Clean-Up Day that took place Sept. 8 at Heritage Park in Utica and other sites across metro Detroit, and it allows everyday citizens to do their part ensuring the river’s cleanliness and quality.

“Nobody wants a filthy river,” CRWC programs assistant Amanda Oparka said. “We still get calls about refrigerators in the river, and we even got one about one of the old, giant satellite dishes in the river.”

Oparka said there are numerous ways for volunteers to take an active role in the council, such as the Weekly Clean program, which addresses various spots along the river and its tributaries, as well as the Lake St. Clair coastline.

The weekly program runs 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays, with an additional evening cleanup from 4 - 6 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month.

CRWC plans to continue Weekly Clean 50 weeks a year, taking hiatuses only during Thanksgiving week, and between Christmas and New Year’s.

The council supplies volunteers with everything they need, including waders and gloves, and some cleanups offer opportunities to paddle portions of the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair.

Upcoming weekly sessions will address sites in Auburn Hills Sept. 26, St. Clair Shores Oct. 3 and Clinton Township Oct. 10.

“It only takes a little time to make a huge difference,” Oparka said. “There are 1.5 million people living in the watershed. And if each one of those came out and volunteered for just one or two hours — imagine what it would mean.”

For more information on volunteer opportunities with the CRWC, visit www.crwc.org or call (248) 601-0606.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brad D. Bates at bbates@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1029.