ANOKA, Minn. — Twenty young anglers and 10 adults picked up about a dozen bags of trash in early April, as the Bassinators juniors club began its 10th year of cleanups at Coon Lake.
“It’s the biggest lake in Anoka County and gets a lot of tournament pressure, so this is a good way to show that we’re more than just guys in boats,” said Jeff Nelson, a mentor for the youth club and secretary/treasurer of Stellar Bass Club, which sponsors it.
Jeff Gilmer, Minnesota B.A.S.S. Nation youth director, added, “As anglers and outdoor enthusiasts, we also like to pass on the tradition of responsible stewardship of our natural resources.”
During the first three or four years, the project required a lot more work, Nelson said. “Now we’ve caught up with the neglect. But that first year, we picked up enough to fill two pickups.”
He estimated that volunteers collected about a ton of trash during that cleanup.
Additionally, Bassinators members began patrolling the shorelines every other month last year instead of annually, as Anoka County officially recognized the effort with an adopt-a-park sign at Coon Lake Regional Park. The county also now provides bags and hauls off the trash. Previously, kids and adults took the trash home and then properly disposed of it.
With the April cleanup, volunteers are among the first to see the lake following a season of ice fishing. That means they often pick up garbage left behind by ice anglers.
“In the past, we’ve found furniture, TVs, DVDs, carpeting, tools and motors,” Nelson said. “The worst was a burned-down ice fishing shack.”