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Duluth beach cleanup thwarted by snow

Carol Burns (from left), Jackie Falk and Barbara Stark carry trash they collected while cleaning up the beach of Lake Superior in the Canal Park neighborhood of Duluth Sunday. Volunteers gathered to remove trash from the beach from the Oct.27 windstorm. --- Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com1 / 3
Lee Johnson of Duluth examines a piece of debris while cleaning up the beach of Lake Superior in the Canal Park neighborhood of Duluth Sunday. --- Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com2 / 3
Volunteers Jackie Falk (left) and Carol Burns both of Duluth scan for debris while cleaning up the beach of Lake Superior in the Canal Park neighborhood of Duluth Sunday. --- Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com3 / 3

Friday night's newfallen snow put a damper on beach cleanup efforts along Duluth's waterfront Sunday but volunteers still turned out to help.

"It's really hard to see most of it under the snow, but we got some," said Lee Johnson who was cleaning up the beach near the Endion Station along the lake. He said the morning's haul included a pair of jeans and a car muffler.

Johnson lives in Duluth's Piedmont neighborhood but came down Sunday morning, volunteering to clean up the beach that remains strewn with refuse after the Oct. 27 windstorm.

"This is a lot of people's first impression of Duluth, so we have to keep it clean," Johnson said.

Shelby Schiller of Duluth hauls a bag of trash while cleaning up the beach. (Clint Austin)Much of the heavy lifting of debris — boulders, giant chunks of trees, sand and gravel that was piled onto the beach by 20-foot Lake Superior waves — has already been done by city crews. The Lakewalk's blacktopped path, buried under sand and gravel during the storm, has been swept clean, and much of the boardwalk also has been repaired, with a few exceptions. The access road at Brighton Beach, which looked like it had been shelled by artillery after the storm, also has been cleared and reopened.

"I'm amazed how much work the city has already accomplished. They did a great job," said Barbara Stark of Duluth. "People are back down here using it."

Stark and her friends Carol Burns and Jackie Falk, all members of the Friends of the Lakewalk nonprofit group, walked the beach to pick up as much garbage as they could see. Tourists strolled by and took photos while joggers and dog walkers were out in force with the lake in a mostly placid mood Sunday morning.

City, county and DNR estimates combined put the storm's cleanup and repair cost at more than $3.5 million along the lake, with county officials last week approving a disaster declaration application for state and federal disaster aid.

Shelby Schiller, a College of St. Scholastica nursing student, had most of a plastic garbage bag full of trash she had accumulated. She was part of a crew from the college's choirs, who were offered donations from a sponsor for a singing trip to Italy if they helped in the cleanup.

"It's a great idea, to help clean up by the lake," she said. "And it helps us raise money for our trip."

The city of Duluth has rescheduled the official cleanup for Nov. 19 at 10 a.m., hoping the snow will melt to expose more refuse. Volunteers can meet on the beach near Endion Station, Brighton Beach, the 12th Street beach access on Park Point or the Park Point Beach House. Sign up at or call Cheryl Skafte at (218) 730-4334.