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posted: 10/17/2012 11:58 AM

Beach cleanup a beautiful success

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Thanks to the 75 volunteers who joined with thousands of people in caring for our environment during the Alliance for the Great Lake's Adopt-a-Beach Event, part of the International Coastal Cleanup. At the Lake County Forest Preserve's Fort Sheridan beach alone, we collected 173 pounds of trash and debris during the Sept. 15 cleanup. From discarded cigarette butts to deflated balloons to tires, claws of invasive crayfish and airsoft gun pellets, volunteers combed 1.25 miles of publicly accessible lakefront to make it a pristine place for everyone to enjoy.

The cleanup was part of the Ocean Conservancy's annual International Coastal Cleanup event. This effort is not only about keeping our beaches beautiful, it's also about collecting valuable data that will enable us to make long-term changes to protect the environment. For example, Adopt-a-Beach cigarette litter data helped build the case for the 2007 beach smoking ban in Chicago.

A special shoutout to a large group of teens from REALITY Illinois, a countywide tobacco prevention youth group, Girl Scout Lake Forest Cadet Troop 41272, the Rotary Club of Highland Park, Lake-Cook Audubon Society and Deerfield High School. Thanks especially to the Lake County Forest Preserve District and staff for providing the logistics needed to make the cleanup a success, and to Event Co-Chairs Jonathan Schlesinger of Plants of Concern and Charla Reinganum of the Highland Park League of Women Voters.

I encourage everyone to take a stroll this fall on our freshly cleaned Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve beachfront and appreciate this treasure. Along with the Open Lands Preserve at Bartlett Ravine, the public now has over two miles of contiguous Lake Michigan beach for passive enjoyment.

Anne Flanigan Bassi


Lake County Forest Preserve

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