City clean-up yields litter from fishermen
In early May, some like-minded friends and I participated in the 20th annual city-wide clean-up in our community – Sault Ste. Marie. The event draws around 200 volunteers who spread out through the city to pick up trash, then wind up at a barbeque in a park on the St. Mary’s River.
What’s that got to do with hunting and fishing? Well, we decided we’d do things a little differently and instead of cleaning up inland streets and parks, we would get in a boat and pull trash from the shorelines of a string of islands that borders the city along the river.
The islands provide fish and wildlife habitat, as well as interesting places to paddle and observe waterfowl, songbirds, and wildlife that includes deer and the occasional moose. Anglers fish around them, and while deer hunters sometimes use them, unfortunately the islands are off-limits to waterfowl hunters. But that’s a topic for anther blog.
The clean-up was quite successful overall, and our group of four was quite surprised by the amount of trash that we found along the shorelines. Using a friend’s pontoon boat, we made three trips to a local marina to drop off 30 bags of trash, as well as quite a load of lumber – mostly from docks that the ice had claimed – and a variety of other items, including a 3-D archery target in the shape of a white-tailed deer, a handful of lures and bobbers, a U.S. flag that was in very good shape and is now flying again, and much more.
We had thought that plastic beverage bottles would make up the bulk of the trash that we collected, and while they certainly accounted for a great amount, there was probably just as much styrofoam, especially in the form of nightcrawler containers. Some of the styrofoam had been on the shore for so long that it had started to degrade and fall apart, making it more difficult to collect. Much of it will be part of the landscape for a long, long time.
While we suspect that much of what we picked up had inadvertently found its way into the water by blowing off a dock or out of a boat, we’re sure that not all of it did, and it’s discouraging to think of fellow fishermen who would throw their trash overboard.
We’ll see what next year’s clean-up effort will bring.