Volunteers Clear Almost 500 Lbs of Trash from Clinton River

The Clinton River, which flows 80 miles through Southeast Michigan to Lake St. Clair, is a tremendous river for steelhead. It’s also a popular river that flows through populated areas, so it’s no surprise that trash accumulates on its banks.
In order to highlight watershed protection, as well as to clear trash that impedes fish habitat, MUCC’s On the Ground program joined with the Metro-West Steelheaders and the Clinton River Watershed Council to clean up two stretches of the Clinton River at Yates Park and Yates Cider Mill in Rochester Hills on July 19.
“Last year, the Metro-West Steelheaders sponsored a resolution to bring awareness to the State of Michigan and MUCC about the Lake Erie algae bloom problem, and we wanted to do a small part in cleaning up our waterways,” said Matt Lubaway, of Metro-West Steelheaders.
10526136_10152288584724091_4081103951160445495_nBy the end of the day, twenty-two volunteers had cleared almost 500 pounds of trash from the banks of the Clinton.
Some of the trash had clearly been there for years; fence posts, old plastic shopping bags, rusted hooks and tangled fishing line, golf balls, socks, tires, too many plastic water bottles, discarded road signs, and even a plastic chair that had jammed its way into the roots of an overhanging tree.
“This piece of the Clinton River is a very important part of the river, great for habitat for steelhead that come up from the Great Lakes,” said Jeremy Geist, watershed ecologist for the Clinton River Watershed Council. “The DNR plants this stretch with about twenty to twenty-five thousand yearling steelhead each year, and we get a pretty good return of the steelhead that were planted. So, it’s a very important part of the river and it’s important that we keep it clean.”
10552377_10152288584819091_6004095068258014541_nVolunteers came from all over the area: students from the environmental club at Oakland University, anglers who fish the river, members of Metro-West Steelheaders, members of the Lake St. Clair chapter of Muskies, Inc., supporters of the Clinton River Watershed Council, members of Oakland County Sportsmen’s Club, and even folks who just showed up at the park, saw what was going on and decided to help out.
“This is a very popular access point for the Clinton River,” said Adam Trenz of Metro-West Steelheaders. “Particularly for the steelhead run in the Spring and the Fall.”
10559774_10152288585679091_3152922877196823427_nAfter the work was over, and nary a scrap of refuse was left on the riverbanks, volunteers enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs, coleslaw and potato salad cooked up by MUCC AmeriCorps member Taylor Renton, who organized the project with Geist, Trenz and Lubaway.
With the river clean and bellies full, volunteers left the river to enjoy their Saturday afternoons with a renewed appreciation for the watershed and a commitment from the groups involved to do it all again next year.

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