Northeast Ohioans are all too familiar with the impact pollution has on fresh water resources. After all, national media outlets never miss a chance to mention the infamous Cuyahoga River fire of 1969. The region’s fresh water quality has improved since then, but pollution that still washes up on Lake Erie beaches is a reminder that the work to keep it clean is never done.
Enter the Great Lake Erie Boat Float. Last year, a dozen boats made from post-consumer recycled materials set sail on Lake Erie to raise pollution awareness and recognize the 40th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire. The event was such a success that the Cleveland Museum of Natural History-one of the event’s organizers -will repeat it Sept. 11 starting at 9 a.m. at Cleveland’s Edgewater State Park Beach, 6500 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway.
Winners will be recognized in three categories:
– Fastest boat
– Most artistic style
– Best use of recyclable materials.
The winner in the last category will have their watercraft recycled by Akron-based polymer recycler, PolyFlow.
The Lake Erie Boat Float is part of a slate of events planned for “Urban Ecology: Nature in the City,” the museum’s annual conservation symposium held this weekend. The Boat Float was “a collaborative idea,” says Cathi Lehn, the museum’s biodiversity alliance conservation program coordinator.
Lehn and others were inspired by Marcus Eriksen, the director of project development at California’s Algalita Marine Research Foundation, who rafted 2,000 miles down the Mississippi River on a craft constructed from plastic bottles.
“He also sailed from Los Angeles to Hawaii to raise awareness on the impact that plastic has on our environment,” Lehn says. Eriksen will be given the Northeast Ohio Environmental Awareness award during the symposium.
Capt. Charles Moore, founder of Algalita, will accept the award and give a talk as a part of the events on Sept. 10 at the museum in University Circle. Moore will also serve as one of the judges for the Boat Float.