The Cass River Greenway, organized in 2007, is an effort by a group of local volunteers, assisted by professional resources and municipal leaders, working to enhance recreational opportunities and environmental well-being of the Cass River corridor. On June 30, 2012, we held our 4th annual river cleanup, cleaning approximately 5 miles of the Cass River from Vassar to Tuscola. These four cleanup events have been very successful, both in terms of volunteer support and removal of significant amount of trash from the river. Each year, we have scoured a different section of the river, approximately 5 miles for each event. We have now cleaned the river from Vassar to Bridgeport (approximately 20 miles. We intend to continue annual cleanup events, moving upstream from Vassar to Caro and Cass City (another 20 miles). The 2012 event drew approximately 40 volunteers in addition to 20 Cass River Greenway Committee members (who are also volunteers). Each of our four cleanup events has drawn nearly the same number of volunteers.
The significance is that as we move to different parts of the river, many volunteers come from that section of the river we are working on, including property owners who readily make their property available to access the river and to help remove trash. All volunteers are happy o help because they see that they are making a difference and are enthused under sometimes difficult conditions, such as walking the river on a hot, humid morning, pulling canoes that are overloaded with trash.
This community involvement has enabled the Cass River Greenway to raise awareness of our committee’s goals and increase the engagement of local residents in our cause. In the end, everyone is made more aware of the river and its beauty, and many will consequently use it more in the future. There are no paid personnel in our cleanup events.
Community support for our river cleanup events has been outstanding. Each year, we have submitted a grant request to the DEQ/Great Lakes Commission’s Michigan’s Volunteer River, Stream and Creek Cleanup Program for minor funding needs. The grant requestor for each cleanup event was the respective County Conservation District in which the cleanup took place (Saginaw or Tuscola County). We have received outstanding support from community businesses such as McDonalds Restaurants and Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn for breakfasts, Grasel Graphics for T-shirts, Frankenmuth Rive Tours and Boy Scouts for canoes, Star of the West Milling Company for trucks to haul trash, local municipalities to host the kickoff breakfasts and local disposal services for dumpster and recycling services. As a result of this local community support, the need for state funding has been very minimal.
We believe our cleanup efforts are the first organized efforts to clean up the Cass River and it definitely fills a need that is very much supported and appreciated by the communities along the Cass River. It makes our river more beautiful and safer for fishing and boating. Trash collected over the four years have included approximately 200 automotive, truck and tractor tires (all being recycled), tires with rims attached, parts of cars, a dog house, cast iron stove, road construction barrels and cones, metal tanks, a television, shopping cart, wooden pallets, wine keg, aluminum lawn chairs, and lots of plastic, can and bottle products. A billfold containing a driver’s license and credit cards was returned to its owner this year. Over the four years of cleaning the Cass River, approximately 130 cubic yards of trash has been removed from the river.
Following this year’s cleanup event, knowing there was additional trash piled on the banks of the river because the canoes were already overloaded, a volunteer from Vassar and a few of his friends picked up the remaining trash (an additional 9 tires and a bed spring). They are also making plans to remove a fuel tank which is still in the river.
At the end of the day….it’s not about the trash,
it’s about communities coming together,
it’s about commitment and fellowship
it’s about the flowers and trees,
the fish and wildlife….
it’s about enjoying and being grateful
by taking care of this wonderful gift….
Our Beautiful Cass River.