KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo River Alliance has scrapped its annual Kalamazoo River cleanup event because of drug paraphernalia and “biohazardous waste” littered along the area.
The organization announced its decision to cancel the June 18 event Wednesday, saying the downtown trail system and riverbanks where volunteers would be cleaning is no longer considered safe because of the litter.
Kalamazoo River Alliance leaders say they were walking along the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail near Gull Road, scouting out the route for its annual river cleanup. Within five minutes, they found so much drug paraphernalia and human waste lying around, they considered it is too dangerous for the volunteers.
“All the pictures that we posted yesterday on Facebook — that was from a 20-yard stretch. So, if we’re talking about a 20-yard stretch, and our river cleanup was going to be three miles of riverfront, I can only imagine. We found at least five or six needles just under one overlook. Who knows?” said Kalamazoo River Alliance President Ryan Baker.
Photos shared by the alliance show syringes, opened food cans, clothing, a bed sheet and other trash scattered on the ground.
“Safety is of the utmost importance while hosting these types of events. We cannot, in good conscience, send volunteers into an environment with the high likelihood of an individual being hurt,” Baker stated in a news release.
This would’ve been the second year for the cleanup. Baker says they hope to bring back the event next year “if conditions are better.”