BRETHREN, Mich. — On July 20, the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, in partnership with Steelhead Manifesto, hosted the fifth annual Big Manistee River Clean Up in the Huron-Manistee National Forests.
More than four dozen anglers, paddlers, and boaters volunteered at the High Bridge Boat Launch near Brethren to help maintain the “wild and scenic” section of the Manistee River. That stretch of the river is protected by Congress for its outstanding fishing and remarkable scenery, qualities that are diminished by illegal dumping and litter.
“The Manistee Wild and Scenic River is a world-class cold water fishery and paddling destination,” said Huron-Manistee National Forests Public Affairs Officer Nate Peeters. “The essential contributions of partners such as MUCC and Steelhead Manifesto ensure that those benefits will be preserved for future generations.”
Volunteers on Saturday collected more than 200 pounds of refuse from the riverbanks and bottom. The haul included food and beverage containers, fishing gear, and a metal ladder.
Longtime volunteers noticed that this year’s haul felt lighter than usual. “There was a lot less trash and that’s a good thing because it means our efforts from the first four years are really paying off,” said Roger Hinchcliff of Steelhead Manifesto.
Despite clear progress, Hinchcliff admitted that it is unrealistic to think that the Manistee River will one day be “too clean” for clean ups. Therefore, he hopes that the annual events will continue and expand.
We want to keep growing this initiative around the country,” said Hinchcliff. “All we can do is educate, promote, and inspire people to do the right thing and care for their environment.”
MUCC agrees, which is why they launched the On the Water Program [mucc.org] earlier this year. On the Water is intended to connect and engage Michigan residents to their natural resources by highlighting and educating the importance of freshwater.
"MUCC's On the Water Program is vital to the health and sustainability of our aquatic ecosystems throughout Michigan," said Emma Nehan, MUCC On the Water Coordinator. "When we can rally the public to volunteer on and take ownership of their local waterways, it is a win-win situation for habitat and the species that depend on that habitat."
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