Kalamazoo River cleanup canceled due to hazmat safety concerns

KALAMAZOO, MI — The Kalamazoo River Alliance will cancel its river cleanup event scheduled for June 18 in downtown Kalamazoo due to safety concerns, organizers announced.

The network of rivers and trails along the banks of the Kalamazoo River where volunteers are expected to clean up is no longer considered safe due to the large amount of drug paraphernalia and other dangerous items, the city said. Kalamazoo River Alliance on Wednesday, April 13.

“Safety is of the utmost importance when organizing these types of events. We cannot in good conscience send volunteers into an environment where the likelihood of an individual being harmed is high,” said Ryan Baker, president of the Kalamazoo River Alliance, in a press release.

“We hope to bring the event back to Kalamazoo in 2023 if the conditions are better.”

Baker said he went on the river because they needed a few random photos of trash to spark interest. He and others were shocked at how bad and dangerous the conditions were when they arrived on the trail system that follows along the river, he said.

The cleanup area would have extended from Mosel Road to Mayors Riverfront Park, he said.

“The band is very disappointed,” Baker said. “Last year we had over 60 volunteers, 15 sponsors and removed over 3,000 pounds of trash from the river within hours.

“We wanted to make this year’s event an even bigger success, but unfortunately that won’t happen this year,” he said.

The City of Kalamazoo is aware of the litter strewn across the trail and river and has city crews and contractors addressing the issue, Deputy City Manager Jeff Chamberlain told MLive April 14.

“It’s very unfortunate that some people continue to abuse Kalamazoo’s open spaces and waterways by leaving trash and other items out in the open, even when multiple trash cans are nearby,” Chamberlain said.

“Recurring cleanup efforts force city staff to spend time picking up trash instead of working on other community projects. City staff are investigating the types of physical modifications that can be made to the site to discourage this type of illegal behavior. »

The Kalamazoo River Alliance has organized a cleanup in the summer of 2021.

In the fall of 2021, the City of Kalamazoo conducted a cleanup, using a curtain to catch debris in the river. The cleanup was near the site where a homeless encampment swelled in numbers in the summer of 2021, until it was emptied by police in October.

For more information on the Kalamazoo River and future events, follow “Kalamazoo River Alliance” on Facebook, Instagram or www.kalamazooriveralliance.org.

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