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posted: 9/7/2012 12:54 PM

Volunteers needed to clean beach near Highland Park

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Lake County Forest Preserve District submission

Help clean a nearly 1-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline at Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve near Highland Park from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 15.

Volunteers will remove debris and record what they find. The local cleanup is part of a broad effort involving thousands of volunteers coordinated through the annual Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach Cleanup, part of the International Coastal Cleanup.

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The preserve entrance is on Sheridan Road at Old Elm Road and Simonds Way near Highland Park. Meet at the top of the stairs leading to the beach. Follow the trail from the parking lot to the meeting place. Bring your own work gloves and drinking water, if possible. Limited supplies will be available for those who do not have their own.

"This event is more than just a cleanup, it's a celebration of the Great Lakes," said Lake County Forest Preserve Commissioner Anne Flanagan Bassi, who is leading the event with Jonathan Schlesinger from Plants of Concern and Charla Reinganum of the Highland Park League of Women Voters.

"For families working together, the event offers children a valuable example of how important it is to keep our water clean."

Collected trash will be weighed and the findings will be incorporated into a regional study to identify the activities and general sources causing Great Lakes shoreline debris. In 2011, more than 70 Fort Sheridan beach volunteers pitched in to remove 290 pounds of trash during the morning event.

"The Great Lakes are home to some of the most beautiful beaches and shoreline areas in the world," Bassi said. "It's our responsibility to ensure their health. The information gathered is used to make positive changes for the natural resources we all rely on."

Schlesinger and Lake County Forest Preserve education and natural resource staff will supervise the Fort Sheridan cleanup effort and train volunteers on how to protect endangered plant species on the beach.

For details about the cleanup, contact Lake County Forest Preserves Environmental Educator Jennifer Sazama, jsazama@lcfpd.org; Anne Flanigan Bassi countyafb@comcast.net; or Jonathan Schlesinger at jschles2@gmail.com.

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