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Grassroots project

Volunteers help with local beach cleanup

Marquette City Commissioner Paul Schloegel picks up trash along the beach between Shiras Park at Picnic Rocks and McCarty’s Cove on Thursday. The Superior Watershed Partnership’s Great Lakes Conservation Corps coordinated the effort, which included planting of beach grass. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — The possible heroes for keeping local beaches from being eroded live underground.

It’s a “grassroots” effort — literally.

Leading a local conservation project on Thursday was Tyler Penrod, program manager of the Great Lakes Conservation Corps, a part of the Superior Watershed Partnership.

The SWP focused its efforts on Clark Lambros’ Beach Park and the beach between Shiras Park at Picnic Rocks and McCarty’s Cove in the city of Marquette.

Penrod said that beach grass, which helps prevent erosion, was to be planted at those spots.

“We had some erosion from the waves from the waves and the storms,” he said of the area between Picnic Rocks and McCarty’s Cove. “They’ll also be picking up litter.”

One of the volunteers putting litter into a bag on Thursday at the spot was Marquette City Commissioner Paul Schloegel, who complimented the SWP on the way it promotes beach conservation.

“It’s just one way to give back with it,” said Schloegel, who noted he picked up mostly cigarette butts, small bits of trash and clothing.

It’s not just garbage that’s a problem in local natural areas.

Noticing the remnants of a small campfire on the beach, Schloegel expressed concern over that as well as campfires at Presque Isle Park.

“It’s just a tinderbox waiting to go up because we don’t do anything with the dead fall,” he said.

However, Schloegel said the city is targeting extra policing efforts to monitor the situation and keep fires from happening.

“It’s really scary because it takes one silly mistake to make it happen,” he said.

Local schoolchildren also were set to help plant beach grass on Thursday at Clark Lambros’ Beach Park where erosion also has been a problem.

“You can see a sandy spot there by the sign,” Penrod said, referring to a bare spot.

Not all of the erosion is related to weather.

Penrod said people cause some of the erosion, but the SWP has taken proactive measures to alleviate it.

“We have a lot of signs on the beaches asking people to stay off closed trails,” Penrod said.

Beach grass adds a nice natural touch to the beach landscape, but it has a practical purpose too.

“It’s important to have beach grass because their roots hold all the sand in their beaches in place, so when we do have strong winds and big waves, it keeps us from losing big parts of our beaches to the water,” Penrod said.

The SWP acquired its beach grass plants, or “plugs,” from already-established plants, he said.

“Some of the areas that we planted, over time they’ve really matured and they’ve grown really dense in those areas, so we’re able to harvest selectively from those areas and put it in places that need it,” Penrod said.

Penrod has a message for people to conserve beaches.

“A big thing they can do is stay off the grass,” he said.

Using designated trails, he said, and not leaving trash are other ways they can help.

“We just want people to be respectful of beaches and the water and pack out what you bring in,” Penrod said.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net

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