Trash Bash- Restoring the River

Eight years ago a group of concerned citizens with the support of Ice Mountain Inc. launched the inaugural Muskegon River Trash Bash, an event in which teams of volunteers spent the day removing discarded trash from the river.

The project gained momentum and grew in scope until it became obvious that a dedicated project manager was required. MRWA office manager, Pat Jarrett assumed that responsibility for the first time in 2019 and delivered an unqualified success. Teams of volunteers descended on the Muskegon on a warm day in September and removed mounds of trash leaving a much cleaner river at the end of the day. It was a well-coordinated activity following weeks of planning to assign teams to specific sections of the river and then monitor their results.

Less than a year later in the spring of 2020, the situation had changed radically. The realities of a global pandemic prohibited face-to-face meetings and made the planning stages of any complex project much more challenging. The simple and possibly most sensible decision would have been to postpone Trash Bash until this summer.

Pat has always had a hard time accepting defeat however, so she figured out alternative solutions. She started with willing sponsors who were eager to see the good work continue. Working remotely, she planned and executed a major clean up event despite the obstacles.

The results were impressive:

  • 26 teams with 106 participants donated a total of 318 hours to the cause
  • They collected 188 bags of trash weighing approximately 10 lbs. each for a total weight of 1880 lbs. of trash removed
  • They covered approximately 644 acres of the river and adjacent property

This year the challenge was to build on that success despite the continuing impact of covid 19. Pat had one big advantage, in that she was familiar with the playbook for planning during a pandemic since she authored one that worked very well last year. She followed the same steps:

  1. Recruit generous sponsors to defray operational costs.
  2. Recruit passionate volunteers, willing and able to devote time and effort to help the environment
  3. Offer prizes and incentives to maintain a high interest level
  4. Provide direction
  5. Measure results

When Pat ran the numbers, the results were impressive. There were six more teams than last year with over twice as many volunteers. They filled 100 more bags, which added up to over 1000 more pounds of trash compared to last year. According to the surveys, together the teams devoted 640 hours to the task, over twice as many as last year.

Read the Full 2021 Trash Bash Report Here

While we appreciate the work of all of our volunteers, the effort of one individual stands out. Frank Krejenka, a Higgins Lake property owner deserves special recognition. Rachel Wisner owner of Wisner Rents Canoes and one of our key sponsors said it best:

Perhaps most importantly this year’s event covered a much greater portion of the Muskegon. Teams operated in all sections of the river, from the Higgins Lake shoreline down to the Bridgeton area where the tube traffic is heavy and empty aluminum cans accumulate.

Without question, an epic success and we are very happy to note that our sponsors were pleased with the event. For example, Arlene Anderson – Vincent from our lead sponsor remarked

“Ice Mountain is proud to continue to sponsor and participate in the Muskegon River Trash Bash. The Trash Bash makes a real difference to the “Mighty Muskegon” made possible by community members, local organizations and businesses. A special “thank you” to the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly for their leadership and organization that has helped the event grow exponentially over the years.”

To view a photo gallery from the 2021 Trash Bash and review all of the data generated from the event including sponsors, survey results and a list of teams please click the link below