Garbage, bicycles in Red Cedar River must stop
The Fisheries and Wildlife Club pulled nearly 3,000 pounds of debris from the Red Cedar River during a biannual cleanup on Sunday. That’s about the average weight of a car.
In half a year, that’s a lot of garbage pitched into the water.
Although river cleaning efforts have helped make it healthier and safer overall, the waste fished out of the water doesn’t seem to decrease from year to year, MSU Surplus and Recycling Center Operations Manager Bob Bryan said in a previous interview with The State News.
The continuous stream of debris dumped into the Red Cedar needs to stop. After all, it’s not a dumpster. The Red Cedar is a part of MSU. Our fight song starts out with a rousing shout-out to its banks.
“It’s kind of embarrassing when you see what some of the students throw in there,” Bryan said. “It seems like, in this day and age, we would know better.”
We should be embarrassed by the amount of trash dumped in our river.
There is no reason why student volunteers should have to pull 50 bikes, a fire extinguisher, a chair, a toaster and a desk from the water’s dark depths. A 2012 cleanup plucked more than 20 bikes, a mini-fridge and a bong out of the river.
Unfortunately, some people’s idea of a funny prank is chucking a bike off the bridge on Farm Lane. Dozens of others do the same thing. It’s damaging to the river and also a waste of a bike.
Regardless of how these found their way into the Red Cedar, their presence contaminates the river and the ecosystem as a whole. Throwing an apple core is not the same as pitching electronics or other mechanical devices into the water. It might seem harmless, but students don’t realize the potential consequences of using the river as their personal dumpster.
Instead of treating it like a trash can, we should take pride in it.
Not all colleges can boast a river flowing through campus. We flock to its banks to fawn over the ducks, cross it as a right of passage when the frigid winter turns the water to ice, kayak down it and even scuba dive in its chilly depths. Students also study the river for class.
Before the Clean Water Act of 1972, agricultural runoff polluted the Red Cedar, Scott Hanshue, a fisheries management biologist with the Southern Lake Michigan management unit of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, told NPR’s Michigan Radio.
Hanshue connects the legislation to a change in the safety of the river. Now it’s safe to fish from, and the Board of Trustees voted last December to open a portion of the river for hook-and-line fishing. Officials hope fishing will help people appreciate the water and take more of an interest in preserving it.
It’s a testament to how much healthier and safer the Red Cedar has become throughout the years, and a testament to its role in students’ and residents’ lives.
Efforts by students and the university, and lawmakers who passed the Clean Water Act, helped clean the Red Cedar and transform it into a recent site for recreation.
Don’t erode the progress we’ve made by dumping bikes and other garbage its waters.