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Removal of old tires from lake no small undertaking

These old, abandoned tires were removed from the Lake Superior shoreline recently. (Courtesy photo)

MARQUETTE — The Superior Watershed Partnership and the Great Lakes Conservation Corps are conducting a comprehensive tire clean-up assistance project for communities in the Upper Peninsula with grant assistance from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

Almost all communities in the Upper Peninsula have a scrap tire problem of some sort; tires illegally dumped in the woods, stockpiles of used tires, or tires used for erosion control, etc.

The problem is that most communities do not have the staff or resources to coordinate a tire clean-up project.

Proof of the problem is almost everywhere. In just the summer of 2019, the SWP/GLCC assisted communities in four counties (Marquette, Baraga, Alger, Ontonagon) with collecting a wide range of scrap tires from a wide range of sites (urban sites, wooded sites, coastal sites, etc.).

The SWP/GLCC also assisted the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community with coordinating a community tire clean-up that collected over 2,000 tires in one weekend. Many of the tire dump sites are in forested areas such as the wooded site in the city of Marquette where the GLCC hauled out over 500 tires.

Old tires contain chemicals and heavy metals that can leach into the environment, polluting lands and waters when they are abandoned outdoors. Illegal tire dumping can impact the environment, public health and economic development at sites across the U.P. Many of these sites are in close proximity to rivers, wetlands, well heads, inland lakes or the coastal zones of Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Other sites are near residential areas or located on the edge of otherwise vibrant communities. Almost every U.P. community has expressed support for related SWP/GLCC pollution prevention, waste reduction and recycling assistance including scrap tire clean-ups. This tire clean-up effort includes coordinating tire clean-up events with the GLCC crews, and coordinating all related hauling and processing.

All U.P. communities will be eligible to take advantage of this unique SWP/GLCC tire clean-up support at no cost based on order of contact, number of tires, site access, environmental impacts, and other factors. Each 4-person GLCC crew is trained and supplied with a truck, tools, and safety equipment.

This assistance is open to all eligible sites; each site will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis in the order that the requests for assistance are received. It is anticipated that there will be a strong response from communities to take advantage of the GLCC tire clean-up assistance.

The SWP provides the necessary insurance and liability coverage for this work. Please contact the SWP for any additional information or to inquire about tire removal for a site.

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