FREMONT - The best thing about partaking in the fifth annual Sandusky River Clean Sweep, at the close of the walleye and white bass runs here, was working alongside Robert Haas and his 12-year-old daughter Cheyann.
Haas, a rural Fremonter and member of the Sandusky County Chapter, National Wildlife Turkey Federation, and Cheyann are veterans of the annual post-fishing litter cleanup. It is an unusual father-daughter activity but it works, notes Haas.
"This is our fourth or fifth year. We kind of enjoy it, actually." If picking up the leavings of careless slobs is enjoyable. But, Haas adds, "it gives us time together." That is important for him, running his own business as he does, aptly named Cheyann Builders.
We were among 38 souls who volunteered to meet downtown on a hot summer evening at the urging of Brian Bury, Sandusky County state wildlife officer, and the Ottawa-Sandusky-Seneca Solid Waste District.
We were assigned to work the east side dike of the flood control project from the State Street Bridge north. It was special to eavesdrop on dad and daughter in conversation as they picked up.
They stopped to admire a feather shed by a Canada goose, talked back and forth of nature and litter, and sundry topics. At one point, in the heat, the talk turned to sweating and why we sweat and the importance of replenishing fluids, which gave dad what educators call a teachable moment. "The body is made up of mostly water."
So it went. I tried to keep a polite distance, mostly, but could not help admire the way the twosome worked and got along. It reminded me of the Starwalker - my own daughter Sarah, now an adult - and the outdoors adventures we had together when she was growing up.
As we parted at evening's end, we shook hands all around and I allowed to Haas what a good thing it was that he was doing with Cheyann. "Got to start them out right," he summed.
You spoke a book in one sentence, sir.
Bury founded the cleanup after being exasperated by the trash leavings along the river - not all from fishermen, to be sure, but a lot.
His after-action report notes 140 bags of trash collected and about 20 wooden pallets, which anglers prop ladderlike against the concrete floodwall as a fishing perch. Of course, they never remember to come back and take them home.
Fremont Mayor Terry Overmyer, who again drove a city dump truck to collect bags, stood atop the dike near sunset, hands on hips, and surveyed the collection effort. "This still amazes me," he said, shaking his head, referring to the mountain of trash picked up.
"Most of the volunteers were from local sportsmen's clubs," said Bury. "Six Girl Scouts from Troop 21 aided in the efforts. Other help came from people who were sentenced by the court to do community service." Crews cleaned up from the old sand docks below town to Ballville Dam above.
Notable items collected included the nearly inevitable shopping cart, a large charcoal grill, and a large stuffed animal. "Most of the rest of the trash was the usual fishing equipment and hundreds of pop cans, beer bottles, and other beverage containers."
Included in the fishing trash were totally unacceptable amounts of balled up, tangled up, or strung-out yards of spent monofilament fishing line. This column has railed often and loudly before about this careless littering and the danger it poses to wildlife and birds, not to mention walkers on the rocky riprap. I'm saying so again.
For their efforts participants at random were rewarded by community business sponsors who deserve mention: Kroger for bottled water and a $30 gift card; Speedway, $100 worth of gasoline gift cards in $20 increments; Anglers Supply with $10 gift certificates; Lee's Chicken with free dinners, and Vibrant Solutions Tanning and Massage with discounted services to volunteers, "who probably had sore backs after picking up all that trash," said Bury.
The Fremont Chapter, Izaak Walton League of America, supplied garbage bags, hand sanitizer, and other cleanup supplies. Expert Tire sent several employees to work the pick-up, and disposed of more than 100 tires, recently dumped at Pickerel Creek State Wildlife Area northeast of town, at no cost, Bury said. He added that about two dozen young people will be cleaning up a site on County Road 129 north of town this week, having been unable to help during cleanup because of school demands.
"It was interesting that many of the fishermen who were fishing [white bass] during the cleanup were thanking volunteers for picking up the trash," the wildlife officer said.
The wildlife officer said that over time, things seem to be getting brighter. "I am seeing improvement during the fishing season, as far as people picking up their trash. Many people at the river have either been cited for littering or know someone who was cited for littering, or saw someone get cited. We see very few repeat offenders, so we are having an impact.
"Still, there are tens of thousands of fishermen at the runs and they do leave stuff behind. Eventually the water would rise and all that trash would end up in the lake. We filled a dump truck and two Dumpsters with trash. That didn't include the pallets."
Bury's evening was not over, however, when the last bag was heaped onto the dump truck.
"After the cleanup was over, I went to the Ballville Dam to check a few fishermen. I saw three people who weren't fishing, just drinking beer. After they finished their cans, they left the river, each leaving a can on the rocks. All were cited for littering, less than an hour after we had finished the cleanup."
Tonight Field trip for breeding birds of the Oak Openings, Toledo Naturalists Association, 6:30, meet leader Matt Anderson at the lodge at Oak Openings Preserve Metropark; also, Saturday, blacklighting for moths and night sounds in the marsh, 8:30 p.m., with Black Swamp Bird Observatory and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, meet 8:30 p.m. at BSBO nature center, 13551 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor, call BSBO to register 419-898-4070; also, Saturday, snake field trip, call leader Kent Bekker for details 419-354-4373; also, Sunday, dragonflies of the Oak Openings, 11 a.m., meet leader Rick Nirschl at the corner of Reed and Girdham roads.
Tonight Trapshoot, 6 o clock, Lakeland Trap Club, State Rt. 163 west of I-280, Lake Township, singles and doubles, practice and protection shoots; also, Thursday, 6 p.m., practice and Oakleys; also, Sunday, noon, practice; call Lynn Witker 419-308-0287.
Tonight Public trap and skeet shooting, 6 to 11, Camp Perry Shooting Club, Camp Perry, State Rt. 2 west of Port Clinton, repeats Thursday 6 to 11 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.; call the club, 419-635-2682.
Tomorrow Birding program for seniors, 1:30 p.m., Oak Openings Preserve Metropark/lodge, call for reservations 419-407-9700; also, Saturday, bird study for adults, 9 a.m., Oak Openings/lodge, call for reservations; also, family wigwam camping, 7 p.m. to 10 a.m., for details call 419-277-0107; also, Sunday, canal boat rides, dads free, noon to 4 p.m., Providence Metropark.
Thursday Public trapshoot, 6 p.m., Progressive Fishing Association, 7576 Schadel Rd., Whitehouse; call Mike Adcock 419-877-9393.
Thursday Trapshoot, 6 to 9 p.m., Ottawa Lake Sportsmen s Club, 9480 Memorial Hwy., Ottawa Lake, Mich.; call Jim Smith 419-360-4910.
Thursday Public trapshoot, 6 to 9 p.m., Ottawa County Conservation League, Martin-Moline Road, Martin; call Bob Reinbolt, 419-855-8409.
Thursday Trapshoot, 6 p.m., Sandusky County Sportsmen s Club, State Rt. 600 east of Gibsonburg; also, Saturday, cowboy action shoot, starting 8:30 a.m., call Ken Vajen 419-874--6929; also, Saturday, .22 silhouette shoot, call Dave Gay 419-287-3884; also, Sunday, bowshoot, register 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., call Bob Fisher 419-410-3237.
Thursday Program on double-crested cormorants, 7 p.m., Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge/Visitor Center, 14000 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor, lecture by Dave Sherman, Ohio Division of Wildlife; call the refuge 419-898-0014.
Thursday Canoe Old Woman Creek estuary, 6 p.m., register by calling Old Woman Creek Reserve, 2514 Cleveland Road East, Huron, at 419-433-4631; also, Sunday, trees on the trail, 2 p.m.; also, June 17, Project WILD School Sites educator workshop, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; call Phoebe Vanzoest 419-433-7599.
Friday Moonlight movie, 9:15 p.m., Van Buren State Park, State Rt. 613 east of I-75 north of Findlay, at park amphitheater, on Township Road 219 east of Township Road 229; also, Saturday, fishing with dad tournament for youths through age 16, 10 a.m. to noon, includes hot dog roast at noon by Friends of Van Buren State Park; also, outdoor cooking contest, 4 to 6 p.m., east camp; also, program on bats, 9:15 p.m., family campground amphitheater; for details call naturalist Natalie Miller 419-348-7679; also, Sunday, program on owl vomit, 2 to 4 p.m., Mary Jane Thurston State Park, day use area, State Rt. 65 west of Grand Rapids.
Friday Naturalists Camera Club of Toledo, 7:30 p.m., Secor Metropark/Nature Center, Central Avenue entrance, program by retired state chief naturalist Guy Denny on Ohio prairie ecology; also, Sunday, field trip to Kitty Todd Preserve, 1:30 p.m., 10420 Old State Line Road; call Jim Hagan 419-842-1015.
Saturday Northwest Ohio Canoe and Kayak Club, paddling on the St. Joseph River at Leo, Ind., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; call Dale Becker 419-899-2437.
Saturday Fish fry, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wolf Creek Sportsmen s Association, 349 Teachout Rd., north of State Rt. 2, Curtice; also, Monday, trapshoot, 6 p.m.; call Rick Ferguson, 419-836-5264.
Saturday and Sunday Pre-Ohio state trapshoot, 9:30 a.m. start daily, Jaqua s Trap Club, 900 East Bigelow Ave., Findlay; call the club 419-422-0912.