ERIE – Nearly 600 volunteers concerned about the quality of Lake Erie and its tributaries removed 7,700 pounds of trash and litter from the lake’s shoreline and feeding streams during a one-day cleanup conducted locally as part of a larger international effort.
“This achievement underscores what can be accomplished by teamwork and the combined will to make our local environmental healthier and our quality of life richer,” Environmental Protection Northwest Regional Director Kelly Burch said.
As part of the Pennsylvania-Lake Erie International Coastal Cleanup, 584 volunteers spent three hours Sept. 16 recording and collecting cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic bottles, old tires and other debris along 42 miles of lake shoreline and several tributaries.
Among the more unusual finds this year were a “litter” of kittens discovered in debris on Erie’s eastside, a message in a bottle at the Erie Bluffs and a car on the lakeshore in Springfield Township. The top items documented in the ICC effort include the following:
· Cigarette/cigar butts — 9,339
· Beverage containers — 4,207
· Food wrappers/containers — 3,848
· Caps and lids — 2,677
· Eating utensils — 1,853
“Cigarette butts remain at the top of the list as the most prevalent litter item,” Presque Isle State Park Environmental Educator Anne Desarro said. “Yet, we continue to see a drop in the number compared to what we first recorded in 2003, when the total was more than 17,000 cigarette butts. We repeatedly have announced in our previous three cleanups that cigarette butts were at the top of the list and have encouraged more responsible disposal. We are pleased to see an improvement in this category.”