Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will host a kickoff meeting for Adopt-A-Beach volunteers on Thursday, May 24, from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center on M-72 in Empire, Michigan.
If you are looking for a way to help keep Lake Michigan beaches beautiful while enjoying a relaxing walk on the beach once a month, you'll want to learn more about the Adopt-A-Beach Patrol. Many of the volunteers are families or groups of friends who enjoy hiking beaches together.
The Adopt-A-Beach program is sponsored by the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Volunteers select one of the Lake Michigan beaches in the National Lakeshore and commit to patrolling their beach at least once each month during the spring, summer, and fall. They keep a record of the type and amount of trash they pick up during their patrol. They also do a beach health assessment by taking water quality samples and weather data during their visit.
This data is collected by the Alliance for the Great Lakes and is used to track sources of pollution, influence changes in laws and practices, and provide information to research studies of the Great Lakes. The Alliance for the Great Lakes has more than 10,000 volunteers and groups involved in beach clean-up and monitoring in the five Great Lakes.
The Adopt-A-Beach program has been in operation for five years at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. During that time, their volunteers have picked up hundreds of pounds of trash that washed up on the park's Lake Michigan beaches. They even found an industrial ice machine washed up on a remote section of the Sleeping Bear Point shoreline and worked with the U.S. Coast Guard to identify the owner of the machine prior to arranging for its removal.
Those who wish to join will make a difference by helping keep the beaches beautiful and safe, and getting a little exercise; all while enjoying the great outdoors. Jamie Cross from the Alliance for the Great Lakes will present results from 2011 and lead the training session. Kerry Kelly from the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes and park rangers from the National Lakeshore will help participants select a beach and provide equipment and materials for patrols. Volunteers receive an annual pass to the National Lakeshore.
If you would like to Adopt-A-Beach, but are unable to attend the training meeting, contact Kerry Kelly, Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, at PR@friendsofsleepingbear.org, or call 231-631-4244.