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Earth Day pickup brings lake neighbors together

To honor and celebrate Earth Day, 28 hearty souls met on Saturday morning at the public water access on Eagle Lake in Cromwell for a roadside cleanup. The participants belong to Facebook group known as the Friends on Eagle Lake. The temperature was in the high 20s, but we had delicious hot coffee and donuts provided by the Northern Grind LLC coffee hut in Cromwell. Keeping warm was a challenge.

Event chair Ragan Balzer had plotted out sections on Carlton County Road 123 for the pickup groups to tackle during this second annual event. The State of Minnesota provided garbage sacks and fluorescent safety vests for the walking volunteers as part of the Minnesota "Adopt a Highway" program.

"Since Covid days, I think neighbors have craved opportunities to visit and have fun for a worthy cause. We live near a great piece of water, and it's important to give back and try to keep it beautiful," Balzar said. "Frankly, these are the type of people who are likely to pick up trash in their own nearby ditches if they see it anyhow. But, I'm a little surprised at how many showed up today, but maybe the hot coffee provided didn't hurt in bringing them here either. Thanks to all."

The group spent a few minutes on introductions and where they lived on Eagle Lake. Most were full-time residents, and there were also people from Iowa, Wisconsin and the Twin Cities area visiting their summer homes. Folks had fun getting acquainted, or reacquainted with old friends they hadn't seen in years.

Most of the garbage collected was soda and beer cans, cardboard and plastic bottles. As a sort of competition, some collectors tried determining the favorite name brand of items tossed into the ditches.

Their only conclusion? Please don't litter.

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