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Smaller crowd, less trash at Torch Lake this year

U.S. Coast Guard

Torch Lake in Antrim County is often the site of huge Fourth of July parties. But not this year.

In the past, the parties have attracted as many as 10,000 people who play loud music and tend to leave a pile of trash. But this year, the crowds were smaller and more law enforcement officers were on patrol.

“One thing that helped a lot this year is Fourth of July was on a Wednesday,” said Joe Clark, marine deputy for the Antrim County Sheriff’s office. “So there wasn’t as many people on the sandbar as there’s been in the past.”

In 2015, a judge temporarily banned three downstate party promoters from holding organized parties on Torch Lake.

The same year that Kwin Morris founded the nonprofit Stand Up for Great Lakes. After witnessing the large amount of trash left on Torch Lake every Fourth of July celebration, Morris decided to find a solution that would manage the waste.

“It’s not what we wanted to see when we’re paddling,” said Morris. “And it’s not what we want other people to see when they come and visit our lake.”

The group holds annual cleanups after the Fourth of July holiday. Morris says that this year, they collected five bags of trash. Three years ago, they collected 20 bags of trash.