Volunteers will clean up sites along the shores of Lake St. Clair, like Veterans Memorial Park beach, shown here, during the 24th annual Nautical Coast Cleanup May 19.

Volunteers will clean up sites along the shores of Lake St. Clair, like Veterans Memorial Park beach, shown here, during the 24th annual Nautical Coast Cleanup May 19.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


High water levels makes Nautical Coast Cleanup a priority

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 10, 2019

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Sandbags aren’t the only things lining the shores of Lake St. Clair this spring.

After winter loosens its grip on the area, the shoreline is often filled with debris, trash and muck. Each May, however, a team of hundreds of volunteers don their boots and grab their rakes to make the shores of Lake St. Clair cleaner during the Nautical Coast Cleanup.

The 24th annual Nautical Coast Cleanup will be hosted by the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee 8 a.m.-noon May 19.

“We’ve got super high water this year,” said Waterfront Environmental Committee member Joe St. John. “One thing that we found with the high water levels is more logs that wash up on these different spots.”

He said that the committee needs everyone who could spare a few hours to come out and help this year.

“It’s the first time it’s cleaned in the year and it’s probably the dirtiest, and we need your help,” he said. “It’s been volunteer driven.”

The group has collected 757 tons of debris from the lake since 1996. He said that it’s an enjoyable morning for the few hundred people who come out to help each time.

“It’s a spiritual thing with me. Taking care of the lake, it’s a no-brainer,” he said.

The volunteers usually include many school-age children and teens, and St. John said they enjoy the atmosphere — and the food.

“We have music; we’re feeding them after,” he said.

Volunteers can check in at Jefferson Yacht Club, 24504 Jefferson Ave., at 8 a.m. May 19. There will be a continental breakfast, and then shuttles will begin taking volunteers to cleanup sites at Veterans Memorial Park beach, Blossom Heath Park beach, and the shorelines at Champine Park on 12 Mile Road and the Chapaton Retention Basin on Nine Mile Road at 8:30 a.m.

Some canal and shoreline homeowner association groups also participate in the event by cleaning up their own beaches, canals and waterfronts on that day.

Volunteers will be bused back to JYC at noon for lunch and a celebration.

The event will go on rain or shine.

“I think it rained one time ... and the people that came out were really unbelievable in the rain,” St. John said. “A lot of people are dedicated to this cause of keeping the lake clean.”

Dave Rubello, of the Waterfront Environmental Committee, said that the cleanup has “always been the kickoff to my summer.”

“Hundreds and hundreds of people have been showing up to show their support for Lake St. Clair. I like boating, I like the water, and I like clean water,” he said.

Mayor Kip Walby said that he appreciates the volunteers’ efforts.

“We’re a waterfront community, and we need to pass the lake on to the next generation,” he said. “We appreciate all the work you do.”

For more information, check out the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee on Facebook.