Diver Don and his mission to clean up the Lower Harbor and beyond

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – On Saturday, July 31, a group of scuba divers and other volunteers will plunge below the surface of Marquette’s Lower Harbor. They aren’t searching for treasure. Instead they’ll be removing years of tires, refrigerators, and other waste dumped into the the water.

Don Fassbender is the man who started the movement three years ago.

“I’ve always wanted to do my part in cleaning up the lakes. I’d bring just about on any dive a trash bag, kept cans and whatever I could find. It wasn’t until other folks noticed me doing that, that they thought this is something that we should expand upon,” said Fassbender.

He is more widely known by another name, Diver Don.

“Fellow divers I know will be on the shore, ‘Are you Diver Don from the group?’ Nobody knows who I am really. I have a mask on and black suit so for the most part I’m somewhat anonymous but they know what we’re doing they definitely know more about what we’re doing down here,” added Fassbender.

He says it all started with videos he posted online. “Folks noticed me picking up cans during some of my dives and they wanted to help although they, themselves were not divers. So we got together and decided we would try something collectively on a little larger scale and so we contacted the city. We were able to arrange for trucks down here at the harbor to get a lot of the larger items and we were able to move about eight tons of tires and debris to date in the last two years so we’re making a big difference. We have probably just as much in the water to remove this time. So let’s hope we can get the rest of it this time.”

Fellow Diver Erik Johnson said, “One of the goals to get across to people is how important it is to take care of the water area you know the waterway. When you get down to the bottom especially in this area here, you see a lack of any kind of really good bottom. You basically have coal. I mean you have 100 years of coal being dropped on the bottom. When the waves shift, you tend to see sand move little bit by little bit. So every time the wind and the waves come through the tires come out.”

The cleanup is Saturday, July 31 from 9 a.m. to Noon at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette. You don’t have to be a diver to help. You can volunteer on land or check out some of the informational booths, or donate to help fund future dives and conservation projects.

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