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 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.