The Michael J. Kirwan Reservoir, known commonly as West Branch Reservoir, was built in 1965 by the Army Corps of Engineers.
It was “developed for flood control, water supply, recreation and fish and wildlife management,” according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Since I was two years old I have been coming to West Branch with my father. We’ve camped for days in the West Branch State Park, hiked nearly all the surrounding trails and have spent countless hours on the shores of the lake hoping to catch a fish.
When I was younger my father and I would join my cub scout troop for the West Branch Clean Up, an event held the weekend of Earth Day where volunteers do as the event name suggests, they clean up West Branch. Clearing debris, fixing trails and general park maintenance are all apart of the clean up but the biggest aspect is the litter collection.
My troop alone would come back to the staging site with a dozen or so bags.
I haven’t been to a clean up in many years, but wanted to go back, to see how much litter there was, what potential for water pollution there was, at one of the commonly used boat launches at the lake. So, I went to one of the spots I use to fish with my camera and a trash bag in search of what was left behind.
I timed myself, to see what I would find in just one hour, and where I would find it. The two areas I focused on where the surrounding brushline to the parking lot, and the parking lot itself. Within moments of getting out of my car I found cigarette butts, a charcoal grill, beer bottles and three tires.
I got to work, picking up what I could, photographing it, and documenting its location.
The purpose of all of this is to document the amount of litter and pollution at one, seemingly clean, boat launch. At one lake, in one count in one state. If it is this bad at one relatively well kept location in Ravenna, then how bad is the pollution at others, and what does that mean for that ecosystem?