July 16, 2008

Trash From Wisconsin Lands on Michigan Beaches

By Sharif Durhams, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Jul. 16--Trash from Wisconsin started piling on Michigan beaches Monday.

Officials in Manistee, Mich., had to close public beaches that were strewn with plastic wristbands used to sell beer at outdoor festivals, pill bottles and plastic needle covers.

The trash is scattered across 10 miles of the lakeshore, Coast Guard officials said. Some of it included labels with names of Wisconsin companies and addresses of Wisconsin residents.

On Tuesday, the trash struck again, this time along a mile of private beaches in Holland, Mich. Caps, cups, bags and loose plastic washed ashore. The second trash plume prompted investigators to send a helicopter over Lake Michigan Tuesday to try to determine where the trash came from.

Coast Guard and Michigan authorities are trying to figure out whether the garbage was dumped or the currents are pushing it across the lake from Wisconsin.

"They're out combing the beaches," said Petty Officer Ryan Bedes of the Coast Guard station in Manistee.

The Coast Guard in Michigan received reports of boaters who found small amounts of Wisconsin-labeled trash as early as June 8. But Monday, a flood of calls started coming in, Bedes said.

Manistee officials reopened the beaches Tuesday afternoon after health officials determined the water was safe.

Shoreline living means sometimes having to clean up trash, but not usually in these quantities. Manistee City Manager Mitch Deisch said 12 cubic yards of trash was collected from city-owned beaches.

"I don't remember seeing anything like this," Deisch said.


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