A small Manistee County group came together to help clean their local forest area but now they have found dangerous dump sites outside their ability.
The Dublin Heights Sports Club wants to help keep the Manistee National Forest around them clean and free of litter but recently they have come across biohazardous waste. Items like used needles and drug paraphernalia are piled together and the group is struggling to get help picking it up.
“This day and age you wouldn’t expect people to be out here throwing trash but it is a prevalent problem,” says Cody Carlson, founder of the DHSC.
Carlson started the Club in February to help increase interest and advocacy for the surrounding forest. What he has spent most of his time doing since is cleaning up trash and not just candy wrappers.
“I’ve picked up Jacuzzis, I’ve picked up vehicles, picked up beds,” says Carlson, “But to the point where you’re picking up needles, we just don’t have the resources and we don’t know what to do with that.”
Illegal trash dumping is already an issue in the Manistee National Forest, but when you start mixing in biohazardous materials, it becomes dangerous very quickly. The group has already found drug needles, cook spoons, animal carcasses and used diapers, all things that are unsightly to look at but when it comes to people and wildlife coming around, it becomes dangerous to be even near.
“When people come here with their animals and their children they want to love and enjoy this natural resource and not worry about stumbling across needles,” says Carlson.
Dozens of needles are strewn in these piles, more arriving each week. Carlson has reached out to local authorities to help but has felt ignored.
“It seems like we’re out here on our own,” says Carlson, “I understand a lot of individuals’ hands are tied but we’re trying to mitigate the problem, we just don’t have the resources right now.”
Carlson and his volunteers are willing to help, they just can only do so much.
“We’re struggling to even get the sharps containers right now,” says Carlson, “We spoke with the health department and hospitals and it’s coming down to we might have to privately buy them.”
The piles are dangerous, who knows what was in these needles and who they previously stuck. A lot of work has already been done but even more lies ahead.
“We love to hear that we’re making a difference,” says Carlson, “But we shouldn’t be out here alone.”