By Angie Jackson
Together, the Great Lakes make up the largest freshwater body in the world. As many as 26 million people depend on water drawn directly from the lakes, which provide approximately one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water supply.
The Great Lakes are also home to some of the most beautiful and accessible shorelines in the country. From St. Joseph, Benton Harbor and Ludington in the west to St. Clair Shores, Bay City and Oscoda in the east, and all the way up to Marquette and the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan’s shorelines offer some of the best, close-to-home beach vacation destinations. While many of us have enjoyed the Great Lakes’ natural splendor, it is also our responsibility to help keep the beaches healthy and beautiful for generations to come.
Adopt-a-Beach, a program started by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, makes it easy for people to make a difference. The year-round program allows families, businesses and whole communities to adopt a beach along one of the Great Lakes shores. Adopters visit the beach multiple times each year to collect data on beach health, longshore current, litter conditions and water bacteria levels. Last year, the program facilitated cleanup events at 292 locations throughout the Great Lakes’ shorelines, and volunteers removed 31,295 pounds of trash.
First-time adopters are invited to training sessions on the Internet or in-person and can also view informational videos on YouTube. The information is recorded into a regional database and used to improve beach conditions.
Can’t commit to adopting a beach but still want to contribute to the cause? Volunteer at an upcoming Adopt-a-Beach clean up event open to the public in Muskegon and Ottawa Counties. Click here for more information.
Adopting a beach is just one way you can help protect Michigan’s special natural areas for future generations. MNA offers Protection Certificates, which allow you to endow a portion of Michigan’s natural land. For only $10 per 100 square feet, you can protect a portion of land forever. Certificates make great gifts for friends and family. To purchase a certificate online, visit the MNA store.
For more information on how you can get involved in these and other efforts to protect the environment, see the How You Can Help section on our website.