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Volunteers Clean-Up After Winter

Updated: 05/17/2014 11:05 PM
Created: 05/17/2014 10:40 PM KAALtv.com
By: Hannah Tran

(ABC 6 News) -- Many fishers, outdoor enthusiasts, and every day residents are excited that spring is here. The lakes have melted and they're shimmering once again. But when the ice disappears, another ugly problem appears.

Trash, lots of it, shows up along the shores of lakes.

A handful of volunteers in Albert Lea, around 20 our so, did their best to restore their community's lake on Saturday morning. It's an annual project that targets specific areas around Albert Lea Lake that collect polluted run-off and litter carried from streams, water channels, or the average ice fisher that left some things behind.

"We probably got a total of five bags full," said volunteer Matt Johnson after only a few hours of clean-up.

Those bags didn't contain your typical everyday trash.

"I ended up pulling a tire out once," said Johnson.

Matt Johnson is among a handful of volunteers who enjoy Albert Lea Lake and want to see it maintained. They were surprised with what they found, from tires to even pants.

However, some of their finds are not so amusing. After the ice melted, stinky dead fish are easily found washed up in big groups along the shore. Many say the past winter's thick ice and its persistently long period prevented oxygen from traveling sufficiently to the fish underneath the lake.

Either way, littering the lake will only worsen the situation for its inhabitants.

"It's just not an acceptable way to get rid of items that you don't know what to do with, if you leave something on the ice it will eventually make it into the water," said Laura Lunde, founder of the Lakes Foundation of Albert Lea, an organization that puts together the annual clean-up.

She says the trash creates an imbalanced ecosystem. That's why these volunteers are here to pick up the mess.

"The lakes are an important piece of habitat, for all the water fowl, the fish, the turtles, and the frogs," said Lunde.

She says the best way to protect this habitat, or any habitat, is prevention.

"I do want to challenge all communities to even have a neighborhood clean," said Lunde.

As these volunteers see it, prevention means picking up after yourselves, because they'd rather hear the sound of  trash hitting a dump, than the crunching sound of branches breaking underneath their feet while they pick up after careless hands. 

Volunteers clean-up around area lakes. They are emphasizing the importance of taking care of our environment.