Volunteers show off the many garbage bags of trash they collected in one area of the  park during a past Earth Day cleanup event.

Volunteers show off the many garbage bags of trash they collected in one area of the park during a past Earth Day cleanup event.

Photo provided by Huron-Clinton Metroparks

Volunteers to beautify Stony Creek Metropark for Earth Day

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published April 17, 2019


ROCHESTER/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP/SHELBY TOWNSHIP — With 4,435 scenic acres to explore year-round, Stony Creek Metropark Operations Manager Gary Hopp says finding a bit of trash at least somewhere in the park is inevitable, especially after the snow thaws each spring.

“When you drive through the park and you see the manicured areas, you see the lawns, we do a really good job of getting into those areas. But over the course of the year, the wind may blow trash into the treelines, especially near the picnic areas,” he said. “You’ll be surprised at what you do find in that buffer zone right off the picnic areas into the treeline.”

Litter such as fishing line and plastic bags is dangerous for wildlife and unsightly to park visitors, according to Hopp.

To help keep the park beautiful — and safe for people and wildlife — park staff invites the public to an Earth Day cleanup event 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 27 at Stony Creek Metropark.

Volunteers, who are asked to bring their own gloves, will meet at the park’s Eastwood Beach, and from there will head out to spruce up the park.

“If there is a place where you and your family like to recreate and you’re interested in helping out in that area, we’re happy to make that happen and let you guys get out into the area that is special to you,” Hopp said.

The event is open to approximately 200 volunteers of all ages. Kids under 12 must be accompanied by an adult, and pre-registration is required. Scout groups can participate to earn a badge.

“It seems to be really popular with the Scouting community, so we’ll get a lot of different troops that will come out. We’ll also have teenagers, adults, senior citizens, runners clubs — the whole gamut,” Hopp said.

The park’s maintenance staff will collect the bags of litter, which volunteers can leave in the various cleanup areas.

“We’ll have more than 200 bags to collect, because people usually take a couple of bags with them,” Hopp said.

Every volunteer hour, he said, translates into an hour that staff doesn’t have to put on its to-do list each week.

“It is a tremendous help,” he said. “If a family of four spends two hours picking up trash, while they may not be as efficient as our staff — and I don’t expect them to be — that’s eight hours of effort that’s gone into cleaning up a picnic area that we don’t have to do, so it’s a huge plus for the park to have volunteers come out.”

Danielle Mauter, the chief of marketing and communications for the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, said there are Earth Day cleanups in multiple metropark locations. For a complete list, visit www.metroparks.com/earthday.

“We all love the parks, and it’s nice to bring the public into that same appreciation and turn them into stewards of our environment,” she said in an email.

“It’s really satisfying to see the final result when the volunteers get an area completely clean and free from trash,” she said in the email.

Stony Creek Metropark is one of 13 metroparks. The 4,435-acre park straddles the border of Macomb and Oakland counties, north of Rochester, and covers four communities: Shelby Township, Rochester, Oakland Township and Washington Township. It connects to the Macomb Orchard Trail and lies just east of the Iron Belle Trail. A metroparks vehicle entry permit is required to enter any metropark and costs $35 annually for regular admission, $24 annually for seniors and $10 for a daily pass.

For more information or to pre-register, call (586) 781-4242 or email sc.recpetion@metroparks.com.