Saturday, May 27, 2017

Boardman River Clean Sweep with L.L. Bean

Boardman River Clean Sweep
ACA  - LL Bean 2017 Grant Report

1st Annual Mother’s Day Weekend 
Kids Creek / Grand Traverse Commons 
May 13, 2017


In 2012, a dam failed while being dismantled and there was a huge flood on the Boardman River.  After that the Boardman River Clean Sweep had to remove 90 docks, decks and other large debris that had been washed into the river.  The most difficult part of that project was finding the pieces that we had photographed and marked with a GPS.  We needed a combined GPS/camera.


This year we decided to clean up Kids Creek, the last and largest tributary of the Boardman River, which flows through a 100 year old historic stand of Norway Spruce at the restored Traverse City State Psychiatric Hospital that was established in 1881 and closed in 1989. 

We found Kids Creek to be littered with the usual trash and a homeless campsite but when we inspected the surrounding woods, we found a horrible mess. Many homeless people of Traverse City live in these woods and their small amounts of trash and litter have built up over the years to an amazing level.  As far as we know, neither these woods nor the creek have been cleaned up in recent memory.

The woods are a maze of foot paths and trails and I was lost as soon as I walked into them.  We photographed and GPS marked the trash along the creek and in the woods but we had a hard time finding it again when we went back.  It was very confusing.

We used the ACA grant money to buy a waterproof GPS NIKON camera and, with the assistance of a member of the homeless community as our guide, we rephotographed the locations we had previously found and our guide led us to several more sites that we had missed in the woods and on the creek.  

Finding them again was much easier with the photos and GPS coordinates that matched up so easily.  All we need to do now is click on the coordinates under the photos in our report gallery and a map comes up to where the photo was taken and we can see what is there in the photo.

We wanted to do our project before the foliage came out on the trees and bushes so we would not have to struggle to move around in the woods and for clear visual sight lines to keep an eye on everyone for safety, especially any children that volunteered.

On the Saturday of the Mother’s Day weekend, May 13, 2017, seventeen people arrived at our meeting place (in the rain) and we started to work.  4 of the volunteers were young children who worked right along side of us.  They were able to get into spaces that we larger people could not enter.  We all wore protective gloves and the children were not allowed to touch any of the trash except with a grabber.   Seven different organizations were represented.

With the assistance of our homeless volunteer and in only 2 1/2 hours we removed 95 - 42 gallon bags of trash plus a lot of large items like a trash tote, wheel barrow, tents, sleeping bags, tarps  and some boxes.  As we filled the bags, we left them at strategic locations in the woods for later removal and we all moved on to the next site.  Each bag weighed at least 45 pounds.  That's about 4000 pounds in total.
On our last trip out of the woods, we spotted three more sites which some of us went back a few times to complete.  In all we removed a total of 124 bags of trash in three days.  That’s about 4500 pounds.

The ACA grant paid for the Nikon Camera, a port-a-john rental, 120 large heavy duty 3-mil trash bags, box cutters, twine, tape, color printing and heavy duty pruning shears.

We had a donation of food coupons from Burger King for a post cleanup lunch.  We had a donation of a golf cart from the Traverse City Country Club to transport the bags out to the road.  We had a donation from the City of Traverse to remove and dispose of the three large piles of trash bags we deposited along the surrounding roads.   We also had financial support from Adams Chapter Trout Unlimited.  

On our last project day, we distributed trash bags to several of the homeless people camping in the woods and along the creek.  We placed a trash tote at the park across the street from the woods for the campers to use and we left some signs for hikers and bikers to encourage them to take out what they bring in.

We plan to continue the momentum that the ACA helped us start and make this an annual Mother's Day weekend event to maintain this beautiful and pristine property through which runs the largest tributary of the Boardman River.

We wish to thank the American Canoe Association and LL Bean for their continuing support of our efforts to keep the Boardman River flowing clean, cold, and beautiful.

Before our project:

After our project:

1 comment:

  1. Nice topic and day to work out your project. It must have been great to spend time with your team and doing activities together.