The work was part of a larger effort — the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ annual September Adopt-a-Beach program, which is a scheduled three-hour work bee at beaches all around the Great Lakes. Another group, led by Will Beaton of Grand Haven, picked trash from the Grand Haven State Park beach on Saturday morning.
“We were doing service hours to gain rank in Boy Scouts,” said Troop 31 member Ben Poindexter, 16, of Grand Rapids.
Poindexter said he often visits the Grand Haven State Park beach in the summer. He and his fellow scouts found mostly discarded food wrappers and cigarette butts at the Ferrysburg beach.
“Not very pleasant,” Poindexter said as he held open his bag to show the trash.
Jamie Cross, the Adopt-a-Beach program manager for the Alliance for the Great Lakes, is not surprised. She says smoking debris is almost always the top category of trash found from the beaches.
Since 1991, about 70,000 volunteers have removed more than 164 tons of debris from Great Lakes shorelines during the Alliance for the Great Lakes annual September beach sweep. Work groups spread across four states on Saturday: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.
“Each year, this long-standing Great Lakes stewardship program draws thousands of volunteers to our shorelines to help clean them up,” Cross said. “Their involvement is a tribute to the Great Lakes, and to the sense of ownership and pride people in the region have for this prized natural resource.”
The end-of-summer event is in partnership with the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day, the world’s largest shoreline cleanup with events taking place in more than 104 countries.
The North Beach Park cleanup was led by Ferrysburg City Councilman Dan Ruiter.
“I’d say this is a bit cleaner beach than Grand Haven,” he said. “I don’t know when it was picked up last, but 40 pounds of trash — that’s a lot of stuff that’s laying around.”
Ruiter said he joined the Barefoot Wine-sponsored cleanup at Grand Haven State Park in July.
“That kind of got me into it,” he said Saturday morning. “Then they were looking for volunteers (for Saturday), so here I am.”
After sorting, counting and weighing the trash, Ruiter said he would take it all to a dumpster for disposal.