There’s still time to clean up ice litter

Imagine yourself in a month when the ice goes out. You’re so excited to get your boat in the water and just go for a ride. As you’re flying along the lake with the wind in your hair all the sudden you hit a couple 2×4 boards floating on the lake’s surface. On another nice April day, you’re walking along the lake and see plastic bags, cigarette butts and aluminum cans washing up on shore. What a way to kill the mood!

Each spring, garbage left from ice fishermen washes up on shore and causes unsightly views. We’re right at that time of year when there is still time to clean up litter and debris. People are still ice fishing, but the ice houses aren’t allowed overnight anymore.

Litter that is left on the ice or shoved down fishing holes does not just go away. It ends up sinking to the bottom of the lake or washing up on shore. Litter at the bottom of the lake disturbs habitat for fish, aquatic insects, and water birds. Monofilament fishing line can wrap around a boat’s propeller and get tangled around or ingested by fish and waterbirds. Cigarette butts contain filters made of a plastic that is slow to degrade. These plastic pieces have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, and other creatures that mistake them for food. Plastics can take hundreds of years to break down, so any plastic litter may continue to impact habitats year after year.

Litter that floats, such as plastic bags and 2×4 boards, interferes with boating and recreation.

This litter is not only ugly and harmful to aquatic animals, it also costs private homeowners and the city time and money to clean up. It also costs boat owners who wreck their props. Litter is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000.

Any kind of litter has environmental, economic and aesthetic impacts. The next time you’re out enjoying one of the last days of ice fishing, take a garbage bag with you and clean up any debris you see laying around. Both the human and animal community will thank you.