Plastic debris along lakeshore worries community

Allegan County

SAUGATUCK, Mich. (WOOD) — People living near Saugatuck Dunes State Park say they believe there’s a waste issue after lots of small plastic debris washed up on shore this week. 

“It looks like caps from milk jugs. You can see there’s a plastic roller. It looks like there’s pieces of cheap toys,” Jennifer Duiven, a hiker, said as she pointed to trash on the beach. “It’s all this kind of harder plastic and if you look, it starts to break down into all these different colors and pieces.”

Duiven, who hikes the state park frequently, spotted the debris and reached out to News 8. She says the trash has become more blatant at the park just in the last week.

“It wasn’t this bad a week ago, Tuesday,” she said. “I mean you see pieces up and down, but when you walk this way, it looks like confetti.”

Duiven says she doesn’t think beach goers are the ones who are responsible. She says the broken pieces of plastic appears to have been previously processed at a facility. She believes the plastics are a sign of mismanaged waste elsewhere. 

“This is not ‘Pure Michigan,’ this is a war zone. It’s starting to look like a dump,” Duiven added. 

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, who oversees the area, says this is not a recurring issue. They say the first time they’d heard about the plastic debris litter was while speaking to News 8 Wednesday.

The department said though they cannot confirm the origin of the debris, it is likely not visitors leaving the trash behind. They say they believe recent storms could have a role in the influx of trash.

Duiven says she hopes the source is found.

“Our lake life, this can’t be good for it. It makes me say this isn’t a good sign and perhaps a much bigger problem than what we think there is,” Duiven said.

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