Grant will help in efforts to clean Lake Superior shore

It’s a shame that so much detritus mars the coastline of our beloved Lake Superior.

But through a recently secured grant, the Superior Watershed Partnership is working to clean up the mess.

SWP was been awarded a $122,000 grant through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program to assist coastal communities and tribes in cleaning up the shorelines, harbors and near-shore waters of Lake Superior.

That includes more than 600 miles of Lake Superior coastline throughout the Upper Peninsula.

What is being removed is marine debris — also known as marine litter. That is human-created waste that has been accidentally or deliberately released into the Great Lakes or ocean waters, the SWP said.

This marine debris includes a range of items, from plastic bags, bottles, cans to commercial fishing gear, tires, appliances, cars and abandoned boats, the SWP said.

Sources of marine debris include stormwater runoff, littering, industrial activities, unregulated construction sites and illegal dumping.

Aquatic habitat is damaged as this debris impacts, injures or kills fish and other wildlife, interferes with navigation safety, and can pose a threat to human health.

“Sadly, there is no place on earth that is immune to this problem. While the Upper Peninsula has approximately 312,000 year-round residents it has experienced a dramatic increase in nature tourism in recent years with millions of additional visitors annually,” according to the SWP. “Unfortunately, many Great Lakes coastal areas have seen a corresponding increase in beach litter, shoreline erosion, habitat degradation and water quality impacts.”

SWP Executive Director Carl Lindquist said, “Most monitoring confirms that Lake Superior is still the cleanest of the Great Lakes but it will take increased effort at the community level to keep it that way; especially with increased coastal development and increased nature tourism. The key to nature tourism is keeping it truly sustainable.

“Thanks to NOAA, the Great Lakes Climate Corps and proactive communities, the Upper Peninsula can be a model for sustainability and coastal resiliency.”

GLCC crews will work with Lake Superior tribes and coastal communities to remove marine debris from shorelines, harbors and near-shore waters.

To address the problem in the U.P., the SWP will mobilize its GLCC to implement a series of cleanup events with coastal communities, tribes and other project partners.

The Great Lakes Climate Corps is composed of young people who implement a wide range of environmental projects that benefit the Great Lakes and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

We are most grateful the grant has been obtained and thank all those who will be involved in the cleanup over the course of the next two summers.

— The (Marquette) Mining Journal


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