Volunteers to Clear Logjams on Looking Glass River This Saturday

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Thursday, September 25, 2014, 9:52 am
Bob Bishop
The Looking Glass River

The nonprofit environmental group Friends of the Looking Glass River will be holding its fifteenth annual LogJam Bee this Saturday, September 27. Following an orientation and safety meeting, volunteers will set out with tools along the Looking Glass River to clear jams with the aim of creating a safer and cleaner river.

Logjams are dangerous for paddlers and cause heavy bank erosion and sedimentation to the river bottom which can ruin the ecosystem for fish, invertebrates, and aquatic insects. Sedimentation also is ideally suited for unwanted growth of thick weeds that choke the stream.

Last year, Friends of the Looking Glass (FLG) put 31 volunteers on the river and removed over twenty tons of log jams and debris. The Christmas ice storm this past winter and a half-dozen high-wind events since have left plenty of work for this year’s crews.

Those interested in volunteering for clearing this Saturday will meet at the McGuire Park pavilion on the west side of DeWitt, on West Main Street (on the west side of the fire station) at 8:30 am sharp, rain or shine, for the orientation and safety meeting. They will then be assigned to a crew and set to work.

FLG moves the course each year to try to keep up with the problem areas along the river, from Babcock Landing (a few miles north of East Lansing) to Portland. Given the new kayak/canoe launches that the City of DeWitt and DeWitt Township have installed recently, the aim this year is to clear jams between the two launches. This will give paddlers an hour-long float opportunity from downtown DeWitt’s Riverside Park (at Bridge Street) to Looking Glass Riverfront Park, located on Herbison Road, just east of Airport Road, in DeWitt Township.

The LogJam Bee volunteers will also clear jams from Old 27 to downtown DeWitt, if enough people show up. If that stretch is cleared of its eight jams, paddlers will have an unimpeded hour-and-a-half float from Old 27 to the Heribson Road park for the first time in five years.

All logjams have been located using GPS (global-position satellite) and access to them has been arranged with property owners. LogJam Bee workers will be given driving directions to the sites.

Those interested are asked to bring sharp, well-maintained chainsaws and supplies, 20' – 30’ long thick ropes (ski ropes are too thin), come-alongs, winches, chest waders for those planning to do in-stream work, and work boots for bank crews. Workers should wear rubber-tactile gloves, safety gear (goggles; ear protection for those in the stream), jeans (no shorts), and long-sleeved shirts.

Volunteers should expect some poison ivy, but summer insects have run their course and will not be a problem. The water is waist-deep in most places, and is higher and cooler than usual due to the rainy weather this summer. Crew members should plan to have a person on the bank with a cell phone in a sealable freezer bag. Each crew chainsaw operator will be assigned an in-stream helper or two, with two to four on-bank workers, who will haul the limbs and chunks back into the wetland to prevent their reentry during flooding. Adult men and women as well as teens are all welcome to help.

A homemade Loggers’ Lunch and logjam story-swapping opportunity will be available at 1 pm at McGuire Park. In case of lightning, Saturday, October 4, is the make-up date, with the same location and same 8:30 am start time.

Photo courtesy of Friends of the Looking Glass.

Bob Bishop is the LogJam Bee Organizer for the Friends of the Looking Glass River.

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