Public Invited to Join Massive Lake Erie Regional Cleanup Set for Sept. 17

Sep 12, 2011, 11:00 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Northwest Regional Office

ERIE, Pa., Sept. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Environmental Protection and local organizations are inviting the public to help clean up the Lake Erie watershed as part of the ninth annual Pennsylvania/Lake Erie International Coastal Cleanup.

The cleanup will take place at sites throughout the region on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 9 a.m. to noon.

In the past nine years, more than 6,000 participants have collected more than 100,000 pounds of debris and trash from the Lake Erie shoreline and watershed. More than 275,000 trash items were collected in September 2010, with cigarette butts, food wrappers, beverage containers and plastic bags being the most commonly found items.

"Every year, this cleanup grows and improves," DEP Northwest Regional Director Kelly Burch said. "The Erie County Recycling Office and other cleanup organizers are focusing on recyclable materials collected during the cleanup. We anticipate a strong volunteer turnout to push this recycling effort forward."

This year's International Coastal Cleanup will include 15 sites along the Lake Erie shoreline from Raccoon Creek in western Erie County to the North East Marina, 20 Mile Creek and Freeport Beach on the eastern end of the county. Downtown Erie neighborhoods will participate through the Erie Downtown Partnership.

The DEP Coastal Resources Management Program expanded the Lake Erie event in 2003. Coastal Resources Management Environmental Planner and event coordinator Don Benczkowski credits local schools and colleges for participating.

"The cleanup just wouldn't be the same without students from Gannon, Penn State-Erie, Lake Erie College of Medicine and Mercyhurst," Benczkowski said. "Combined with younger kids from area school districts; Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups; fishing organizations and the general public, the cleanup makes a big impact on the watershed's health and the Erie area's quality of life."

The information gathered in past cleanups was used as educational material for environmental programs in local schools and highlighted in the Erie Times-News' Newspapers in Education section.

International Coastal Cleanup is the oldest and largest volunteer project of its kind in the world. For more information, visit

For more information on watersheds, visit, keyword: Water Management.

Media contact: Freda Tarbell, 814-332-6816

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Northwest Regional Office