Volunteers Jump in for Annual Torch Lake Cleanup

"We had a lot of volunteers this year which makes work go by really fast." - Kwin Morris

Another Fourth of July and another huge turnout on one of northern Michigan’s hottest tourist spots: Torch Lake.

The crystal clear lake in Antrim County is a huge draw for visitors year after year. While it’s good for fun and good for business, it’s not always good when it comes to trash.

Thousands of visitors hop on their boats, and also hop into the shallow waters of Torch Lake, every summer. Unfortunately, not everyone leaves the lake as they found it. Kwin Morris is the Founder of Stand Up for Great Lakes, which spearheads the cleanup effort. “It was a typical Fourth of July packed weekend on the sandbar. A lot of people, a lot of boats,” he says.

That’s why every year for the past eight years, the group has led a volunteer effort on July fifth to clean the trash off the bottom of the lake.” Morris says, “It sends the message of just keeping the lake clean. Obviously this is our eighth year and I keeps getting better and better. Less and less trash, so I mean that’s the whole goal.”

Kylanna Kiel is helping with her family from Elk Rapids. “This is where we are, we live here. So it’s our lakes and we want to take care of it.… I wanted to help with that I think our entire family did too,” she says. “We’re all having fun but we’re all just not paying attention to the environment while we’re doing it.”

Morris says he never knows how many volunteers they’ll get. Many times people just “show up” to help clean up and spend a morning out on the water of their favorite lake, just to keep it clean.