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News from the Keweenaw Peninsula

April 27, 2005  

MTU groups clean up Princess Point, Hancock Beach

HOUGHTON - HANCOCK -- Michigan Tech's Aquanauts and members of Students for Environmental Sustainability (SfES), a subcommittee of MTU's Environmental Sustainability Committee (ESC), braved unseasonably cold sub-freezing temperatures and high winds on Saturday, April 23, to clean up Princess Point and the waterfront path on the Houghton Canal, near the MTU campus. The Earth Week cleanup was a follow-up to the same two groups' cleanup of Princess Point and Hancock Beach last October.

Aquanaut Greg Murphy emerging from Apr. 23 dive for sunken tires in Houghton Canal.

Greg Murphy, outgoing president of the MTU Aquanauts, emerges from a dive for sunken tires in the Houghton Canal during the Earth Week beach cleanup on April 23, 2005, at Princess Point. (Photo 2005 Michele Anderson)

The Princess Point cleanup was ESC's final activity for Earth Week 2005. The MTU Aquanauts, diving in their dry suits, collected nine tires and other items -- mostly glass, wood and metal -- from the Houghton Canal. They relayed what they retrieved to community volunteer Ellen Lutz, of Arnheim, wearing waders in the shallow water. Other volunteers cleaned up the shoreline, the walking path and the hillside below the Rozsa Center parking lot, Lot 9.

Elizabeth Hollowell, a student at Northern Michigan University and a member of the MTU Aquanauts, came from Marquette to help with the cleanup. She said she retrieved mainly glass items -- broken and unbroken bottles -- from her dive in the Canal.

Wearing waders and pink earmuffs, Ellen Lutz retrieves from the Houghton Canal a large, dangerous piece of wood with sharp metal pieces attached during cleanup at Princess Point Apr. 23.

"I wouldn't want to step on this," said Ellen Lutz, community volunteer, as she retrieved a large piece of wood with sharp pieces of metal attached, during the Princess Point cleanup on April 23. Undaunted by the cold, windy weather, Ellen is wearing an original ensemble of waders and pink earmuffs. (Photo 2005 Michele Anderson)

Shalini Suryanarayana, ESC chair and director of MTU's Special Academic Programs -- who was on hand with her dog Buddy, ESC mascot, to help with the cleanup -- said the group usually collects eight to twelve garbage bags full of trash just from the hillside below the parking lot. In the winter the snowplows push the snow down that hillside, and the litter comes with it, re-appearing in the spring.

"More than half of that is fast-food garbage," Suryanarayana noted.

During this April cleanup, the volunteers collected about 20 bags of trash in all.

SfES members and mascot, Buddy the dog, pose with bags of trash they collected at Princess Point on Apr. 23, 2005.

Volunteers filled about 20 bags of trash during the April 23 cleanup at Princess Point on the Houghton Canal. Pictured here with the collection are SfES members, from left, Jim Pavelski, Naomi Tillison, Erin Haglund and Drew Snauffer, who is also a member of ESC and a Peace Corps Masters International student in environmental engineering. Drew is holding Buddy, the ESC mascot. (Photo 2005 Michele Anderson)

On Oct. 23, 2004, the ESC also sponsored a cleanup of the Princess Point area as part of the first annual Make a Difference Day (MADD), a new tradition of community service for Michigan Tech. At that time the volunteers found $10.00, 50 feet of rope, a cell phone, car keys, and plenty of cigarette butts, beverage containers and, of course, fast food wrappers to fill several garbage bags. The ESC has attempted to prevent such litter by requesting trash cans be placed in the parking lot. 

MTU Aquanauts and other volunteers with Shalini Suryanarayana, ESC chair, and her dog Buddy pose with a pile of tires and other large objects collected at Princess Point Apr. 23, 2005.

MTU Aquanauts retrieved tires and other large objects from the Houghton Canal on Saturday, April 23. Pictured here with the "loot" are, standing, from left, Jerry Lutz, Aquanauts' advisor; Greg Murphy, outgoing president; Ellen Lutz, community volunteer; Elizabeth Fraki and Matthew Miller, student volunteers. At left, in foreground, is Shalini Suryanarayana, ESC chair and director of MTU's Special Academic Programs, with her dog Buddy, ESC mascot. Not pictured, but also present for the dive, was Aquanaut Elizabeth Hollowell, a student at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. (Photo 2005 Michele Anderson)

Also as part of the Oct. 23, 2004, Make a Difference Day, SfES partnered with the MTU Aquanauts to clean up Hancock Beach and the surrounding area. Twenty-three volunteers gathered the following items for proper disposal: bike rim, snorkel, gum, shovel, broken beer bottles, bandaids, glasses case with $2.30 in it, cigarette butts, fishing line, blocks of concrete, and 20+ year old Pepsi cans and beer bottles. MTU Aquanauts had four certified divers that collected some of the above listed items, as well as other trash, from the swimming area and around the dock on the Houghton Canal. 

At Hancock Beach Oct. 23, 2004, MTU Aquanauts and SfES members display the "loot" from their dive in the canal.

MTU Aquanauts and SfES members worked together last fall to clean up Hancock Beach. Pictured here with the "loot" from their dive, from left, are Steve Snare, Drew Snauffer, Jim Johnson and Greg Murphy. (Oct. 2004 photo Michele Anderson)

The faculty, staff and students of the ESC promote and support environmental initiatives while serving as a resource to the campus and community. 

"By implementing projects and providing informed policy recommendations, we strive to foster a sense of social responsibility and increase commitment to the ideals of environmental sustainability," said Alexis Troschinetz, ESC student co-chair and Earth Week organizer. "Our dedicated volunteers value the spirit of collaboration and a proactive approach to making a positive difference for the environment." 

Wearing protective gloves, Alexis Troschinetz, ESC student co-chair, picks up cigarette butts and other litter during the Oct. 23, 2004, Make a Difference Day cleanup of Hancock Beach.

Alexis Troschinetz, ESC student co-chair, picks up cigarette butts and other litter during the Oct. 23 Make a Difference Day cleanup of Hancock Beach. (Oct. 2004 photo Michele Anderson)

Troschinetz is a graduate student in Environmental Engineering at Michigan Tech and helps organize many ESC environmental projects. She is active on several ESC sub-committees, including Green Purchasing, of which she is the co-chair with MTU Professor Neil Hutzler, Transportation Alternatives and SfES.

Make a Difference Day volunteers from MTU pick up litter on the trail in the woods near Hancock Beach on Oct. 23, 2004.

During the Oct. 23, 2004, Make a Difference Day cleanup, MTU students, from left, Ramanathan Arunachalam, Satheesh Rajagopalan, John Sturza and Kimberly Wolosiewicz pick up litter on the trail in the woods near Hancock Beach. (Oct. 2004 photo Michele Anderson)

For more information about the Environmental Sustainability Committee, its sub-committees and projects, visit the ESC Web site or contact Shalini Suryanarayana at shalini@mtu.edu or 487-2262.