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Protecting Northern Michigan's ​Water Resources

CANCELED: Clean Waters Challenge

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Due to poor weather conditions, the Clean Waters Challenge: Healing the Bear has been rescheduled to September 7. 


Clean Waters Challenge: Healing the Bear
In partnership with Bearcub Outfitters


Saturday, September 7, 2024
9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Bear River Shelter, Petoskey

The Clean Waters Challenge: Healing the Bear Bear River Cleanup will take place along the Bear River in Emmet and Charlevoix counties on September 7. The Bear River is a tributary of Little Traverse Bay and stretches 15 miles from its headwaters in Walloon village to its mouth at the Petoskey waterfront. On any given day, canoers, kayakers, hikers, and fishermen enjoy the beauty of this fast-paced river. It is the goal of the cleanup to maintain the ecological and aesthetic integrity of the Bear River by involving the community in keeping it clean and healthy. All dead and downed woody debris will be left in its place, and trash and recyclables will be removed by the volunteers. The recyclables are then sorted out during the cleanup and taken to the Emmet County Transfer Station for proper disposal. These recyclables include any electronics, appliances, tin, cardboard, glass, paper, plastic, scrap metal, tires, wood and other products that are in good enough condition to be recycled. All other items will be properly disposed of to keep them out of our waters.

All ages are welcome, but youth under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Join the fun and help us “Heal the Bear.”

9 – 9:30 a.m. Registration (breakfast items provided by Grain Train Natural Foods Market)
9:30 a.m. Kick-Off & instructions
9:45 a.m. – 12 p.m. Cleanup & trash sorting
12 – 1 p.m. BBQ lunch (hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, cookies, refreshments, etc.)
Volunteers can enter to win great prizes from Bearcub Outfitters!

Volunteers can register as a group or individually. Individual volunteers will be teamed up in groups of 4 or more and assigned to a section of the Bear River. Maps, directions, and collection sites will be handed out at registration. If you are registering as a group, please indicate your group name(s) on the registration form so we can keep your team together.

New this year! Thanks to our sponsor Petoskey Plastics, volunteers will receive a collectable iron-on embroidered patch that will be designed each year for the Clean Waters Challenge.

Registration Location:
Bear River Shelter: Located in the Bear River Valley Recreation Area near the Quaintance Avenue entrance and the Mitchell Street Bridge.
Restrooms are available onsite at the Bear River Shelter.

Parking is available at the Bear River Valley Recreation Area, street parking, and across the street at the Bayfront.

What is provided:
Buckets, trash bags, grabbers, disposable gloves, and other necessities will be provided.

What to bring:
Volunteers may bring their own buckets, gardening gloves, or other collection materials. Bug spray, sunscreen, sunhat, reusable water bottle, and other self-care items recommended.

What to wear:
Outdoor clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Tall socks or pants, outdoor shoes, hat, layered clothing appropriate for changing temperatures and weather. Gardening or work gloves recommended. Volunteers generally stay on the shore or edge of the water, but some may choose to put on waders provided by the Watershed Council for collection in ankle or knee deep water under supervision of a staff member.

What to expect:
At registration, volunteers will be assigned to a small group with a team leader—generally a staff member or experienced volunteer. Each team will be assigned a section of the Bear River, highlighted on a map provided at registration. After the kick-off at 9:30 a.m., volunteers will walk to their assigned section. For sections further away from the registration area, volunteers may choose to drive to their assigned section. Trash may be bagged and left at each site for pick-up by Watershed Council staff or carried back to the picnic shelter for sorting and disposal. Breakfast items (granola bars, bananas, coffee, etc.) will be available in the morning and a BBQ lunch will be provided at noon.

Weather considerations:
This event is “light rain or shine” but will be cancelled a minimum of 24 hours in advance for heavy rains or thunderstorms. Volunteers will be notified via email and social media.

Water access, mobility & safety:
The cleanup takes place along the Bear River, which can have sections of fast-moving waters. Volunteers will be working mostly along the shore. Volunteers may encounter stone stairs, slopes, steep areas, and uneven ground as they collect trash.  Some volunteers may enter the water with appropriate equipment such as waders, or in a canoe, to reach trash in deeper parts of the river. Volunteers are asked to stay on or near the shore unless otherwise directed and trained by the Watershed Council staff. All youth under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.




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