Group seeks volunteers to tackle debris in Maumee River

Volunteers from Toledo ZooTeens, in conjunction with Partners for Clean Streams, search the Maumee River last year to remove old lures that are made of lead.
Volunteers from Toledo ZooTeens, in conjunction with Partners for Clean Streams, search the Maumee River last year to remove old lures that are made of lead.

A discarded fishing weight looks a lot like a small stone to a duck or other water bird, but when it is ingested, it can become a death sentence because of lead poisoning. A snapped off section of fishing line can flutter in the current, catch on a twig or branch and become part of a snarl of lines, and then snare a passing fish or bird and result in strangulation or drowning.

Fishing tackle debris is no friend of the critters that live in and around our rivers, so Partners for Clean Streams has made it their primary target in a series of upcoming clean-up efforts along the Maumee River.

The waterway plays host to thousands of fishermen each spring during the fabled walleye spawning run, and the white bass run that follows, but once the legion of anglers departs, the river and its irregular, rocky bottom have claimed a mass of line, lead, and hooks that pose serious threats to the Maumee’s year-round residents.

The “Get the Lead Out” campaign hopes to lure a large, all-volunteer force down to the river to conduct a massive cleanup of the harmful fishing gear, plus any other trash, flotsam, or jetsam that has found its way into the river corridor.

The dates, times, and locations of the river cleanup events are as follows:

■ Friday from 5-9 p.m., meet at Riverview Area of Side Cut Metropark, 1025 W. River Road, Maumee

■ July 28 from 5-8 p.m., at a location TBA (in Maumee/​Perrysburg area)

■ August 7, 5-9 p.m., meet at Riverview Area of Side Cut Metropark

Partners for Clean Streams has joined forces with Bass Pro Shops in the effort to tidy up the Maumee River’s wide swath through the metro Toledo area.

“We want to get anyone and everyone involved in this, and it is so key to have a company with a huge profile like Bass Pro jump in and lend its name and resources to the project,” said Ava Slotnick, outreach coordinator for Partners for Clean Streams.

“It’s awesome to have their support and involvement. Bass Pro Shops clearly is interested in cleaner streams and is willing to work for the betterment of the environment. For a small organization like us, it’s really powerful to have a name like theirs attached to this. They have a much broader reach and can hopefully get many more people taking part in this effort.”

Slotnick said her organization conducts periodic river cleanups with certain groups, but the upcoming projects are all intended to enlist new stewards of the river.

“This is a great opportunity for families to come out and bring the kids along so they can learn about the environmental impact on the river,” she said. “It’s also ideal for college students, people from naturalist clubs, and really anyone with an interest in our waters.”

There is no attempt to disguise the master plan here — an individual that is informed about the river will know it, and therefore care about it.

“It is not just about picking up fishing line and lead lures. This is a great educational opportunity,” Slotnick said. “We’ve found that once people see the river up close and get a sense for all of the various forms of wildlife that make the river their home, then they will gain an appreciation for how valuable that river is to all of us.”

While working to get the lead out, the river clean-up volunteers likely will become invested in the Maumee’s future health, and they will begin to see things they never could see while driving across one of the bridges that span the waterway.

“We want it to become everyone’s river,” Slotnick said. “You don’t have to know a lot about the Maumee River to know that it’s cool and we should do everything we can to conserve it.”

Call Partners for Clean Streams at 419-874-0727 for more information on the Maumee River cleanup events.

HORNET NESTS: Local pest control specialist Russell Lamp is collecting the nests of bald-faced hornets so that these insects can be used to create a vaccine that protects against severe allergic reactions to their stings. He is interested in bald-faced hornet nests approximately the same size as a basketball, or larger. Lamp will remove the nests for free and will respond to calls on hornet nests all across northwest Ohio and into southeast Michigan. Contact him at 419-836-3710.

Contact Blade outdoors

editor Matt Markey at:

or 419-724-6068.