It is hard to believe that a mess could be so bad that an event aimed to help clean up the mess has to be canceled. But that is what is happening in Kalamazoo due to an enormous amount of litter, some of it dangerous, along the Kalamazoo River.

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The Kalamazoo River Alliance made an announcement Wednesday afternoon that their 2nd annual Kalamazoo River Cleanup will not be held this year. The group, led by KRA President Ryan Baker, cites safety concerns for the decision. After monitoring the river and trail systems along the banks of the Kalamazoo River where volunteers would be scheduled to clean, it has been determined that it is no longer safe due to the high amount of drug paraphernalia and biohazardous waste, including dirty drug needles and syringes.

“Safety is of the utmost importance while hosting these types of events. We cannot in good conscience send volunteers into an environment with a high likelihood of an individual being hurt. We hope to bring the event back to Kalamazoo in 2023 if conditions are better” ” - Ryan Baker, President of the Kalamazoo River Alliance

The group says they may try again next year if conditions are better. In June of 2021, the 1st Annual Kalamazoo River Cleanup was held in areas along the river near downtown Kalamazoo and downstream toward the Parchment area. During the one-day event, around 70 volunteers participated and removed over 3,100 pounds of trash from the Kalamazoo River. They were expecting an even better turnout this year.

For more information on the Kalamazoo River and efforts to raise awareness about the poor environmental conditions along the river in the Comstock, downtown Kalamazoo, and Parchment areas, you can follow “Kalamazoo River Alliance” on Facebook, Instagram, or by visiting their website at

While it is sad that this event had to be canceled, there are several other cleanup events coming up in the next few weeks around Michigan. You can find more about them HERE.

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