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LHS Alum Helps Clean Up Butler Lake

Former Libertyville resident Kristian Gustavson will host the third annual Butler Lake cleanup at 2 p.m. July 23.

One year ago, Kristian Gustavson, founder and expedition leader of Below the Surface, led environmental enthusiasts as they hauled 1.5 tons of refuse from Libertyville’s .

At 2 p.m. July 23, Gustavson will lead his third annual Butler Lake cleanup. Items previously removed from the lake include castaway items like Christmas light strings, lawn ornaments, car headlights and more traditional trash items such as plastic grocery bags, car tires, glass bottles and aluminum cans.

“I am hoping residents will understand that clean water is critical to the continued survival of the food chain,” said Gustavson, 26, alumnus and recent master’s degree graduate from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. “Even smaller lakes like Butler Lake reflect the health of a community, and the amount of trash and pesticides we’ve found gives it a middle-to-poor rating.”

This effort is supported by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Trout Unlimited, Libertyville High School’s LEAF environmental club, the village of Libertyville and community members.

“Libertyville residents have always actively protected our village amenities, but Kristian’s work with Butler Lake adds a dimension of community and helps to educate our residents about the need to be proactive to protect our resources,” said Mayor Terry Weppler.

Dress Code for Cleanup

The cleanup is open to everyone. Volunteers should arrive at the Butler Lake boat launch, Lake Street, Libertyville, at 2 p.m., dressed for a mucky walk along the 55-acre lake with closed-toed shoes, long pants, long-sleeve shirts and water. Those with canoes or kayaks are welcome to fish for trash along the shore.

“I’d like to see the village make a commitment to banning phosphorus fertilizer just as neighboring communities have adopted the ban,” said Gustavson, who now lives in La Jolla, Calif. “The Bull Creek watershed, of which Butler Lake is a part of, feeds the Des Plaines River, the Illinois and ultimately the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. How we care for each tributary affects the health of the entire system.”

Gustavson's Adventures

Gustavson has researched water quality in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the impact the Midwest watershed is imposing on the Gulf Coast restoration.

He also has led expeditions of the Mississippi River (documented in the Reader’s Digest June 2010 issue), the Atchafalaya River in Louisiana and along California’s coastline. His 90-day plan, 90 Ways in 90 Days to Clean & Conserve Water, available at www.belowthesurface.org , sets out 90 ways that anyone can and should undertake to the improve water quality of the Mississippi River watershed.

“With or without the village’s legislation to ban harmful fertilizers, each citizen can take matters into their own hands by adopting the practices in the 90-day plan,” Gustavson said. “It’s relatively simple to change old patterns if taken one day at a time. The Shedd Aquarium presented the program to its grade-school-age campers. Why wait another day to let pollutants dictate our future lifestyle when we can begin to turn the tide ourselves?” 

Information submitted by Hope Babowice.

Tammy K. July 22, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Chris; we've discussed this before. The issue is not fertilizer, the issue is stormwater quality. The city and the high school use Butler swamp for stormwater retention. The only way to have a clean lake is to remove tbe decades of soot to deepen the lake and then filter the piped in roadway/parking lot runoffs. They actual started that process a few years ago but quit after dredging about 20% of the lake. Lack of sufficient funds and a bad low bid contractor. Your clean up effort, while noble, is good for awareness, but insignificant in larger scale problem.
Meridith Murray July 23, 2011 at 07:10 PM
Why is it when a group of individuals want to volunteer to make something a bit more pleasurable, someone ALWAYS has something negative to say? Maybe this group won't fix the lake and it's problems, but what harm does it cause to get together for an afternoon and pick up the trash around the lake? Awareness can lead to an ultimate solution. Getting Libertyville residents involved may lead to the government taking action in the future. You think they are wasting their time, but that's YOUR opinion. What difference does it make to you if someone is trying to do a good thing. Let them work. At least someone is putting their volunteer time into a cause rather than sitting in a chair at the computer weighing judgement on someone else's efforts.
jayla4change July 23, 2011 at 09:02 PM
I was at the lake clean-up today and there was only six people plus a journalist. Come on people! Is it too much to ask to devote an hour or two to help better the community?
Tammy K. July 25, 2011 at 01:20 AM
Thanks. Is it finally the "recreational amenity" that Mark Kirk declared it would be at the dredging kickoff in 2005? Is the lake "pleasureable" for Meridith? We were trying to cleanup that Lake years ago when it still had a chance. Lville gave up and buried it with vegitation and cattails. I am guilty of doing nothing to help Chris this time around. But he knows me and he knows my prior efforts. Without a significant dredging operation, Butler will continue to be a blight on our community.
Sue July 26, 2011 at 03:09 AM
The "prairie" restoration around the lake seems to have been neglected also. If the village was trying for an Independence Grove look, they have not succeeded. It just looks like a big mess. Butler Lake is a jewel in Libertyville's crown. Shame that they don't or won't spend the money to keep it up. Thank you Chris for your efforts.

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