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Adopt-a-Forest Cleanup Challenge Passes Midpoint
Michigan Ag Connection - 08/07/2020

Refrigerators, tires, old cars, barrels with mysterious contents and an entire body cast are among the strange things pulled out of the woods by Adopt-a-Forest volunteers in the program's nearly 30-year history.

The DNR program's summer forest cleanup challenge, which recently passed the halfway mark toward its goal with more than 50 completed cleanups, is unearthing similarly weird finds as volunteers step up to care for Michigan's woods.

"We've found roofing materials, rat traps and lots of other trash," said DNR Adopt-a-Forest program coordinator Conor Haenni. "It's satisfying to use a little elbow grease to help return a dump site back to nature."

Adopt-a-Forest program organizers aim to get 100 forest sites where trash has been dumped cleaned up in an ambitious 100 days. The challenge launched June 15 and will run through Sept. 22. There are more than 600 sites across the state in need of cleanups.

While Adopt-a-Forest helps organize volunteer cleanups year-round, this special campaign was organized to celebrate the National Association of State Foresters 100th anniversary, highlighting the work foresters do to keep forests thriving for generations to come.

A person poses next to buckets and bags of trash cleaned from the forestCleanups make a real impact on Michigan's landscape: 22,000 pickup loads of trash have been removed from forests since the program went statewide in 1991, with about half of those materials able to be recycled.

Volunteers can join in by finding a site, learning about cleanup safety and signing the volunteer waiver at CleanForests.org. When finished with a cleanup, they can report it online and spread the word on social media with #trashtag and #100in100 forest cleanup challenge to inspire others.

On-site, people should follow the guidance of health experts and practice social distancing of at least 6 feet and wear face coverings if volunteering with those outside their immediate household.

Will the work slow down after Sept. 22?

"No way," said program manager Ada Takacs. "We're ready to celebrate 30 years of protecting forests and have exciting plans for the future that we can't wait to share."


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