Beds, bowling balls, bones: Man organizes 6th annual river cleanup

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WEST MICHIGAN -- For the sixth year in a row, Jerry Carlson is leading the charge to clean up the Muskegon River. After a busy summer, there are once again mountains of trash hiding below the surface.

Saturday, Carlson and several hundred volunteers tackled the problem in boats and kayaks.

"You never know what you’re going to get until you get it," Carlson told FOX 17. "We pulled out 24-hundred cans, five or six hundred pounds of garbage trash... bowling balls, sewing machines... folding bed last year. 5 horse electric motor. Some old bones. One of my doctors is a neighbor, so we let him check them out, he said they weren’t human, so that was good.... there might be tennis shoes, and flips flops. We`ve found cell phones and everything else."

He added, "We take pictures of it, so people see what we get. Because if we just leave it in a garbage bag, nobody is really going to get the full extent of what we pull out of here."

Carlson launched the  initiative, after kayaking with friends from Bridgeton to Maple Island a few summers ago.

"It was nothing but beer cans and garbage all the way," he said.

What started with less than 50 volunteers assisting with the cleanup, has grown to at least 300. Carlson would like to see it continue to grow, to keep the river pristine.

"I would love to see six or seven or 800 people come down here, Carlson said "There`s places we can`t get to with just 300 people, we need as many as we can get."

Volunteers were treated to a free lunch for their work, and  the chance to win prizes, like several donated kayaks.

It goes without saying, Carlson plans to be out doing the exact same thing again, next summer.

"I`ll keep doing it as long as I can."

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