UIS students combat litter at Lake Springfield

UIS environmental science students are conducting research to determine how people's recreational use of Lake Springfield is impacting the environment. They've documented that cigarette butts and fishing line are the most widespread types of litter at popular fishing sites along the lake. In June alone they collected 2,841 littered cigarette butts and about 2.6 miles of littered fishing line during their shoreline surveys. Fishing line creates havoc in the environment as wildlife easily gets entangled in it. Most fishing line used today is made of monofilament, which is a single strand of strong, flexible plastic that is long-lasting and can be recycled at specialized facilities.

Katie Calhoon and Jennifer Davis are taking action to combat this problem. They partnered with Springfield's CWLP, and now there are 21 fishing line receptacles and three cigarette waste bins at 14 fishing sites on Lake Springfield. They empty the fishing line bins monthly, conduct shoreline surveys and record GPS coordinates of littered items. They hope to discover insights into pollution patterns and rates on Lake Springfield. Over 17 miles of fishing line have been collected from the recycling bins.

In addition to fishing line and cigarette butts, they've discovered hooks, lures, weights, bobbers and food and tobacco packaging. These are often entangled in fishing line. They are collecting and counting all of these items and are planning to use them to create a planter, bench or some type of art project.

Katie Calhoon of Springfield is a senior at UIS majoring in Environmental Studies. This is her second year working with Dr. Anne-Marie Hanson to evaluate plastic litter prevention strategies on Lake Springfield. Jennifer Davis, an Environmental Science graduate student, is from Petersburg. She is currently the Lincoln Land Community College Laboratory Coordinator and a vet technician at Petersburg Veterinary Clinic. Calhoon and Davis are motivated by the positive comments they receive from people they meet while doing their research and by knowing they are helping keep Lake Springfield clean.

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