Storms Contribute to Debris in Michigan Waterways

April 17, 2013

A massive pile of debris has clogged part of the Saginaw River following recent storms that brought flooding to Michigan, and officials are urging caution for recreational boaters including those going fishing.

The collection of tree limbs, brush, marsh vegetation and garbage was seen this week near the Bay City marina, The Bay City Times reported. Some other waterfront areas in Michigan also are dealing with similar reports of debris.

“We have a huge mess out front,” said Justin Scott, an employee at Pier 7 Marina, located along the Saginaw River. “When this stuff moves down the river it will be a water hazard to all the boaters.”

The U.S. Coast Guard said it’s common for debris such as trees, brush and garbage to wash up in the spring. It is up to individual marinas and communities to clean up the mess or wait for it to be carried downriver, it said.

“Ice moves a lot of debris on the banks,” said Petty Officer Thomas Couture. “When it thaws, the water rises and it runs onto the river.”

Those heading out to fish should use caution, Couture said.

“It can be a hazard, but boaters realize when there is a lot of debris they need to take it slower and watch where they’re going,” Couture said.

Storms moving across the Midwest last week, coupled with melting snow, brought flooding to parts of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

George Lauinger, park manager at the Bay City State Recreation Area, said last week’s rain has exacerbated what he described as a chronic debris problem for this time of year. He said it’s mostly dead vegetation.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources crews have been working at the Pine River Dock in Arenac County, and other docks in the area using tractors and dump trucks to clear debris so boaters can use them.

Debris buildup at the Pine River launch was so severe boats couldn’t launch until the mess was cleared.

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