MARQUETTE - Last September volunteers found 13,499 cigarette butts and 268 pieces of styrofoam on Marquette beaches.
"That stuff does not biodegrade," said Danielle Miller, conservation coordinator at Marquette County's Nature Conservancy. "I believe everybody in Marquette appreciates and uses the beaches here, and you really would be surprised how much garbage we found."
Miller has been organizing the local Adopt-a-Beach program for the past five years. It's an annual event set for Sept. 20 that gets volunteers out to clean up Marquette beaches, joining in a global effort to get trash off beaches.
Cigarette butts are a problem on Marquette beaches, as seen in this recent photo. (Journal photo by Andy Nelson-Zaleski)
"It's part of a larger worldwide day that the Ocean Conservancy started," Miller said. "At the same time, on the same day, there will be people cleaning up beaches all around the world."
Last year in Marquette about 25 people filled 69 plastic bags with trash from along the beaches at Founders Landing, Lake Street and from McCarty's Cove to Picnic Rocks.
"Last year we had divers who pulled up a folding chair, sawhorse and a pair of pants out of the Lower Harbor," she said.
Miller said the garbage is not only unsightly, but it is also a danger to animals, children and the environment. For instance, fish can become entangled in balloons, birds' beaks get trapped in food packaging and children are exposed to cigarette butts when they play in the sand.
For more information, call 225-0399 or sign up online at www.greatlakes.org.