Lake Bancroft cleanup begins

MARQUETTE – Work began Saturday in what will likely be a years-long cleanup effort at Lake Bancroft in Ishpeming.

A group of volunteers spent the majority of the weekend at the lake, wading waist deep into the murky waters to remove debris amassed near the shoreline.

Seth Brewer, a 15-year-old Westwood High School sophomore, spearheaded the weekend efforts as part of his Eagle Scout community service project.

Brewer has been in the Boy Scouts since he was in first grade and is a Life Scout. He said he chose to work with the Lake Bancroft Committee to help clean the lake – which suffers badly from eutrophication caused by suspended organic matter in the lake water, reducing the lake’s ability to sustain life – because of his family’s long history as Ishpeming residents.

“My family has been living in Ishpeming for generations,” Brewer said. “I just figured that it was time to give back to the community and help clean up the lake.”

The group worked to remove branches, leaves and other debris from the waters near the shoreline.

“The end goal is supposed to be making the lake support life,” Brewer said. “In order to do that, we have to clean up the shoreline a little, take out all the branches and debris out of there.”

The group spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday wading into the lake, removing debris from the muck at the water’s bottom near the shore.

Next, Brewer said he will make special boxes to house the polymer logs that will be used by the Lake Bancroft Committee to clean the lake’s murky waters.

The committee is working to implement a pumping system that will combine a food-grade polymer with the water that binds with the organic matter and sinks it to the bottom of the lake, allowing sunlight to penetrate the lake. Clearing the water is critical to re-establishing the lake as a fish habitat.

“(The polymer) makes the suspended solids in the water settle to the ground, and then sunlight will go into the water and hopefully oxygenate it and make it able to support life,” Brewer said.

Cleaning out the old branches and leaves will help the polymer capture and remove the suspended nitrates and phosphates in the water.

Though Brewer’s project is helping in the beginning stages, remediating Lake Bancroft is a project that will likely take years.

“This is just the first step,” Brewer said.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.