ST. HELEN – The snowmobile and ATV trails in and around St. Helen are much cleaner after a dedicated group of volunteers come out in force, bagging trash and cleaning up trails.
This is the fifth year of the St. Helen cleanup, which is organized by Wicked Jeeps of Southeast Michigan. Held the weekend of April 21-22, it was an overwhelming success, based on the monumental amount of junk pulled out of the forest.
Spokesperson Craig Pinkelman said participation was great with about 160 vehicles holding more than 230 people showing up ready to work over the two-day event. Wicked Jeeps has about 2,100 registered members and another 12,000 throughout Michigan and Ohio who are actively engaged in the organization’s projects.
“We appreciate everyone who helped and supported the cleanup,” Pinkelman said. “Wicked Jeeps is proud to be part of this event and it’s our way of giving back to the St. Helen community.”
Pinkelman said he doesn’t have the exact amount of tonnage the volunteers pulled from the forest yet, but said they collected 230 tires and filled three compacted 30-yard dumpsters, donated by Adopt-a-Forest. He said J & M Construction saved the day after those were full, delivering a fourth dumpster that was 80 percent filled.
Four tons of scrap steel was also removed and donated to the St. Helen Snowpackers. They will recycle it and put the money toward new grooming equipment to maintain the trails. The Snowpackers also raffled a grill during the cleanup.
Sponsors of the event included: Fresh Coast Offroad, Steer Smarts, Unlimited Offroad, Line X Monroe, Armorlite, Warn, Factor 55, Rancho Suspension, Bestop, LaFontaine.
Groups who assisted included: Iron Mustangs Motorcycle Club, St Helen Snowpackers, Michigan DNR, Adopt a Forest, Great Lakes 4 Wheel Drive, General Motors, Ogemaw Jeepers, Clearlake Trail Riders, 313 Jeepers, Mudchuggers, Misfits Jeepers, Glass City Crawlers, Spooky Foot 4×4 and Michigan Bronco Club.
Pinkelman said he had the idea for the cleanup five years ago when he was an officer of Wicked Jeeps. He said the cleanup continues to this day because of like-minded people who appreciate the beauty of Northern Michigan.
“I do it to represent the off-road community in a positive light,” he said. “To let people know we have a passion for our sport, our lands, the state lands, for every citizen whether they’re walking or driving.
“There are a lot of good people out here trying to do the right thing and this cleanup is part of that. All of us appreciate the support and I look forward to coming back to do it again next Spring.”