Boy Scouts clean up Pere Marquette River

GEARING UP: Boy Scouts from Muskegon’s Troop 1053 assemble on Aug. 1 to clean refuse from the Pere Marquette River. It was the 49th annual cleanup. (Courtesy photo/Kim Engebretsen)
GEARING UP: Boy Scouts from Muskegon’s Troop 1053 assemble on Aug. 1 to clean refuse from the Pere Marquette River. It was the 49th annual cleanup. (Courtesy photo/Kim Engebretsen)

By Kim Engebretsen

Special to the Star

On Aug. 1, Boy Scouts and adult volunteers from around western Michigan gathered for the 49th annual cleanup of the Pere Marquette River. The long-standing event, sponsored by the Lake County Riverside Property Owners Association (LCRPOA), is made possible by the collaboration and generosity of several local businesses and organizations.

The day started out with a quick briefing under sunny skies in the parking lot of Baldwin Canoe Rental. This year, two representatives of the U.S. Forest Service, Dan Kauffman and Kevin Emde, helped the LCRPO’s Jim Vogt with the orientation, and distributed the large trash bags that the U.S.F.S. donates to the cleanup. The Forest Service also picks up the gathered trash, provides parking passes for the cars that are spotted and reserves campsites for any scouts who want to camp out during the event.

As the 37 scouts and leaders — all from the President Ford Field Service Council — gathered to hear what section of the river they’d be tackling, they enjoyed a continental breakfast of donuts, milk, juice and coffee provided by Dunrovin Conference Center.

They took to the river in three groups, cleaning a roughly 26-mile stretch of the river between M-37 and Upper Branch Bridge. Baldwin Canoe Rental and Ivan’s Canoe Rental, Campground and Cabins provided the canoes, paddles and life jackets for the scouts, while the LCRPOA handled the car spotting duties.

After the cleanup chores were completed, the LCRPOA provided lunch for the scouts at the Bowman Bridge Landing, with Houseman’s Foods donating a portion of the cost of the food. This year, representatives of the property owners’ group served hot dogs, brats, watermelon, chips and soda.

The four troops involved in the 2013 cleanup were Troop 373, of Comstock Park; Troop 281, of Walker; Troop 1053, of Muskegon; and Troop 312, of Jackson. Each scout received a special patch for their effort.

As expected, they came back with the usual type of refuse seen every year — beer and pop cans, shoes and flip-flops, fishing lines and lures, water bottles and lighters. Items typically lost when a canoe turns over.