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Keeping beaches, environment clean a shared responsibility

Cigarette butts. Diapers. Cans and bottles. Food packaging. Dog waste bags. Socks, shirts, hats and towels.

These are just a few of the items that were recently found on area beaches by Cesar Escobar, an area resident who has been making a daily effort to survey and address litter in the city through his role as a contributor to the Clean U.P. Marquette anti-littering initiative, a recent Journal article reports.

It’s disappointing to see evidence that many people have not been practicing a “leave no trace” approach when they head out to enjoy the Upper Peninsula’s natural beauty.

And this isn’t a new problem for the Marquette area or the U.P.

A recent Journal article reported that the Superior Watershed Partnership has been undertaking a massive effort to remove tires from forested areas and bodies of water around the U.P., as tires have been dumped in many wild areas, and have the potential to leach harmful chemicals into the lands and water.

Many area residents might also remember the state of the beach at McCarty’s Cove after the 2018 Fourth of July celebration: Those who went to clean up the day following the celebration found many of the same items as Escobar has reported, but on an even larger scale.

“It’s not going away and will probably get worse as our population expands,” Escobar said in the article. “Marquette residents should be more concerned because this is our home. Garbage looks trashy, ‘pun intended.’ People are more likely to throw trash if they see trash.”

And not only does litter look bad, but it can cause real and irreversible harm to our waters, lands, and wildlife.

Items left on streets, in ditches, on beaches, or in forests can have a real impact on irreplaceable natural resources, as litter can be carried away by rainfall into Lake Superior and other bodies of water, contaminate soil or be consumed by wildlife.

Due to this, we join Escobar in urging area residents and visitors to get proactive about the issue.

“If you see someone litter, kindly remind them not to,” Escobar said in the article. “If you see trash, pick it up. If you don’t see signs that remind people not to litter, call the city and tell them to make signs. Bring a bag with you when you go to the beach or on walks. Be considerate. There is probably a trash can nearby and if not, you got one at home.”

Through a few simple actions, we can preserve precious natural resources that are needed for the health of our ecosystems, as well as our enjoyment of clean air, fresh water, and unspoiled recreational opportunities.

Beyond encouraging more individual responsibility, Escobar believes more beach patrols, lifeguards, extra trash cans and signage could also help address the issue.

We agree that the path to fixing this issue involves individuals taking more personal responsibility, as well as working with community leaders to develop more systematic and preventative changes that will preserve our beloved area.

We commend Escobar for his leadership on this issue and encourage area residents and visitors to take a page out of his book, as we can each be part of the change if we are proactive and take on collective responsibility for the wellbeing of the U.P.’s environment and natural resources.

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