Volunteers to remove wood from Clinton River

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published August 20, 2014

A unity of government agencies and volunteers will team up to labor after the Labor Day weekend and spruce up the Clinton River.

Sterling Heights and its Department of Public Works are joining a partnership with the Clinton River Watershed Council and Macomb County Public Works for the Clinton River Cleanup Sept. 4 and 5.

Organizers say the volunteers will gather first at Farmstead Park, 12160 Clinton River Road in Sterling Heights, at 8:30 a.m. to eat breakfast. Then, they plan to remove a “massive logjam” from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. They will end the session each day by eating lunch.

CRWC programs coordinator Amanda Oparka said volunteers can expect to stay active and work by gathering trash and clutter from the river or by moving large logs.

“It’s physical labor,” she said. “We have some people carrying out logs or helping cut up logs or throwing them into trucks. … The DPW will take them and chip them down and use them for paths.”

According to organizers, volunteers should use sunscreen and bug spray, and people are encouraged to wear appropriate clothes, such as long pants and boots.

Oparka said wet weather has produced healthy water levels at the river throughout the summer. Stormy weather can knock down branches and timber, and Oparka said woody debris is common in that particular stretch of the river in Sterling Heights.

“If one tree falls and it blocks the whole river … all the other trees that float downstream get caught up into it,” she said. “There’s a kayak and canoe launch being put in upstream from where the log jam is, so we, for safety purposes, want to clear this out.”

According to CRWC ecologist Jeremy Geist, logs and woody debris tend to actually be beneficial to a river’s ecosystem because they can provide habitats for the indigenous creatures.

But because the Clinton River winds through an urban setting, striking a balance is necessary.

“These logs and trees can accumulate (and) can potentially alter a stream flow or cause a backup or flooding, and cause an impediment to canoeists or kayakers,” Geist said.

“We try to work with communities to try to balance taking out some of the wood in the streams, as well as maintaining the habitat.”

Learn more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489. Potential volunteers are encouraged to call the Clinton River Watershed Council in Rochester Hills at (248) 601-1124 or visit www.crwc.org.