International Coastal Cleanup hits home for Ambassador Dave Rearick

International Coastal Clean-up Day, organized by Ocean Conservancy, September 17, 2016
Cleanup sponsored by Dave Rearick, Ambassador of 11th Hour Racing
Town of Dune Acres, IN: Southern Shores of Lake Michigan

Hidden away on the Southern Shores of Lake Michigan, an hour’s drive from Chicago, are the Indiana Dunes, a National Lakeshore Park. This wonderful collection of wild dunes and woodlands hosts some of the most spectacular white sand, fresh water beaches in the world.

Fragile, they exist today because of dedicated naturalists, citizens and forward thinking governors who set aside these beautiful lands in the 1960’s, protecting them forever from the encroaching urban environment and drone of heavy industry known to Northwestern Indiana. Today as the heavy industry recedes, stewards step in again to restore abandoned areas and create natural tentacles that now encroach on heavy industry.

Centered in this park is a small town called Dune Acres, home to 11th Hour Racing Ambassador, Dave Rearick. 50 years of living along these shores have ingrained Dave with a unique understanding of the fragile environment and its link to the larger world and oceans. Sailing on these waters for 45 years, few know the Lake and its moods as well as Dave. Even fewer have parleyed this knowledge of the lake and its connection to the ocean. Flowing from Lake Superior to Lake Michigan and through Lake Huron, Erie, Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway, into a life on the world’s oceans and beyond; Dave has sailed in many places around the world and still calls these amazing waters home.

So there was no hesitation organizing a cleanup of Dune Acres Beaches when 11th Hour Racing inspired a huge activation of the International Coastal Cleanup. At 8:30 am, a dozen residents gathered and scattered themselves along the shore picking up plastics, garbage, cans and bottles. This small community has a population of 300 of which about 120 are permanent residents; that’s a 10% turn out under rainy skies!

Two hours later, over 80 pounds of trash had been collected and the two miles of town beach cleaned.

A sampling of the trash collected:

  • An untold quantity of cigarette butts
  • 100’s of plastic cigar tips
  • 100’s of plastic caps and retainer rings from plastic bottles
  • 100’s of Straws (Plastic straws deteriorate into shards, making it even more difficult to pick them out of the sand.)
  • Balloons – no sign of the balloons, but 50 or more balloon strings were found.

At the end of the day, the wild beaches of Dune Acres are momentarily free of visible plastic and a dozen residents are more acutely aware of the problem. Here on the more fragile, fresh water seas, tides don’t flush and the caustic cycle of salt water degradation isn’t prevalent.  Garbage, plastics and unwanted trash never disappear, lying in the belly of the Great Lake waiting for another November tempest to regurgitate the trash on the shores. Thankfully, we have the committed residents of communities and organizations, like 11th Hour Racing and Ocean Conservancy, to spur awareness and give back to the wonderful waters of the world. The waters which give us, each day, the juice to regenerate life.

Content provided by Dave Rearick. Dave shares adventure and education through his Bodacious Dreams Expeditions and Atlantic Cup Kids Program, exciting stories and free educational resources centered around sailing, exploration, and the environment.

Early starters. Left to Right: Tom Roberts, Louise Roberts, Bill Kollada, the Hawksworths...Rich, Kaden, Riley

Early starters. Left to Right: Tom Roberts, Louise Roberts, Bill Kollada, the Hawksworths…Rich, Kaden, Riley

 

Our resilient natural world - Beach grass tackling garbage

Our resilient natural world, beach grass growing through garbage.

 

The beauty. One flower breaks through...a lot of trash.

The beauty. And one flower breaks through…a lot of trash.

 

Before

Before

After

After

 

The haul!

The haul!

 

Our Thank You!
A huge thank you to Rich Hawksworth, Riley Hawksworth, Kaden Hawksworth, Jan Bapst, Robin Tennant, Tom and Louise Roberts, Carolyn and Lou Mellen, Bill Kollada and others, for participating in the International Coastal Cleanup and protecting the beautiful Indiana Dunes!