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Over 1.8 Million Acres Cleaned!


Safety is very important when working on a cleanup. Always be prepared for emergencies and make sure everyone involved has reviewed safety procedures prior to working at a cleanup site. It is best to always work in groups.

Personal Protective Equipment

When protective equipment is worn, chances of getting through work without an injury are much greater. Improve your success as an Adopt-a-Forest volunteer with the proper protection. See section on What to Bring and Wear.


Horseplay on the job is very dangerous and the person endangered isn't just the one that is horsing around. Other people are involved. Reactions of human beings are not entirely predictable. Their reactions to a joke might range from a laugh to a punch in the nose, depending on what mood they're in. Help protect your security and theirs through "horsesense," not horseplay.

Slips and Falls

Beware of tripping hazards. Tools laid on the ground, trash, sticks, and piles of leaves may cause you to fall.


Lifting incorrectly can result in a variety of injuries. Back strain is very common. Proper lifting method:

  • Stand close to the load with feet apart to lift
  • Bend knees, keeping back as straight as possible
  • Get a firm grip on the load and make sure your vision is not blocked.
  • Test lift load to be sure you are capable of picking it up without straining. If not, ask for help.
  • Lift using leg muscles, not back muscles.


Ensure your vehicle and trailer meet all Secretary of State requirements.  Trailers in Michigan now require permanent license plates.  Make sure all blinkers and brakes are working before traveling.

Drive safely.  There is no hurry when working on cleanups.  Heavy loads may cause your vehicle to handle differently than normal.  These loads will also increase braking distances.  Loosely loaded objects may shift in turns.  Unsecured debris may blow out of the vehicle while driving, so use a tarp. Use flagging if items extend over the truck or trailer bed.

Fire Hazard

Be aware of current fire danger conditions.  Always be careful when smoking.  Fully extinguish and properly dispose of your cigarettes. Do not dispose of newly extinguished cigarettes in bags or dumpsters full of trash.  Also remember that sparks from mufflers and excessive heat from your vehicle's undercarriage could ignite a fire in dry conditions.

Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion occur from being exposed to high temperatures and from exposure to the sun, especially on calm, humid days. Heat stroke is dangerous--get emergency help FAST!

Heat stroke symptoms include:

  • Very high temperature with hot, dry skin
  • Rapid breathing and pulse; the victim may appear confused
  • Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and even coma are possible

First-aid for heat stroke:
Immediate professional help is important, but until help arrives:

  • Move the victim to a cooler area
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Sprinkle water on the person or fan the body for cooling
  • If victim is awake, give them small sips of water

Heat exhaustion symptoms include:

  • Body temperature is near normal
  • Heavy sweating is noticeable
  • Other symptoms may include dizziness, weakness, stomach cramps, nausea,
    vomiting, rapid heart rate, and blacking out.

    First-aid for heat exhaustion:
  • Relocate to a cooler area
  • Victim should lie down and, if conscious, sip water
  • Never give the victim alcoholic beverages, tea, or coffee. If there is any doubt of a rapid recovery, see a doctor at once.

Stinging Insects

Seek emergency medical help if the victim has a history of serious reactions to stings or if a serious reaction develops.

Be aware of surroundings and listen for buzzing.  Stay alert, especially when disposing of old stuffed furniture which may be the residence of bees; or cinder blocks and appliances which are preferred nesting areas for wasps. Watch for yellow jacket nests (usually in the ground) and be sure not to bump into a gray paper nest of the tree dwelling bald-faced hornet.

Wear insect repellent for mosquitoes and black flies. If you are allergic to insect stings, be sure to have appropriate first aid material with you. Make sure your coworkers know what to do for you in case of an emergency.

Avoid wearing strong perfumes, particularly floral-scented ones.  Wear light-colored clothing as opposed to dark or brightly colored clothes which seem to attract bees and wasps.

If chased by a swarm, escape to a body of water and remain submerged until they leave.  If no water is available, place your hands and forearms across your head to protect your eyes, throat and neck.  Move away quickly and quietly, as agitated movement and noise can irritate the insects and evoke further attacks.

Do not leave opened cans of sweet drinks standing around.  Always check before drinking from an open container, even if it only contains water.


There are 18 species of snakes found in Michigan.  The only venomous snake is the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake. 

Status:  Special Concern, it is protected by the State of Michigan and is a candidate for federal listing.

Range:  Entire Lower Peninsula.

Habitat:  During spring, Massasaugas use open shallow wetlands or shrub swamps.  During summer, Massasaugas move to drier upland areas.  Look for them “sunning” in open fields, grassy meadows, or farmed sites.

Behavior:  Massasaugas are sluggish, slow moving snakes.  They are generally considered unaggressive; it is unusual for the species to strike unless it is directly disturbed.  Although the venom is highly toxic, fatalities are very uncommon because the species’ short fangs can inject only a small volume.  Small children and people in poor health are thought to be at greatest risk.

Description:  Massasaugas have thick bodies with colors that range from gray to brown.  Its back has large, dark brown blotches with smaller, lighter brown patches on its sides.  Young Massasaugas are similarly marked with brighter coloration.  This snake has a wide triangular head and eyes with slit-shaped pupils.  Adults can be 18” to 30” in length.  Young Massasaugas have small yellow buttons or “rattles” at the tip of their tail.  Adult “rattles” are grayish yellow, like pieces of corn kernels, on top of dark rings.  Snakes may bite to protect themselves.

Look-Alike Snakes:  The Eastern milk snake and Eastern hog-nosed snake are harmless.  A hog-nose snake will flare its head, coil, and may strike.

Rattlesnake Etiquette:

  1. Keep your distance
  2. If you hear a rattle or buzzing sound.  STOP! Look, but don’t move—the snake may be close to you.  Slowly move away after the snake has been located.  Do not pick it up or kill it.
  3. Report all sightings and location of Massasauga rattlesnakes to a DNR wildlife office.  Include a photograph if possible.

If a snake bite occurs:

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Move away from the snake.
  3. Try to remember what the snake looked like.
  4. Notify someone of your bite; sit down and limit your movements.
  5. Go the nearest emergency room/hospital for treatment.
  6. If a pet is bitten, immediately notify your veterinarian.

Poison Plants

Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac, and Nettles are very prevalent on public lands.
Click here for identification and treatment

Click here for more information on wildlife

Hopefully you will be able to see a variety of wildlife while you are working on your cleanup. While these animals appear to be cute and cuddly, their actions are unpredictable. Do not attempt to approach or otherwise disturb any wildlife. They are thankful that you are cleaning up their habitat.

Hazardous Materials

Be particularly careful while handling hazardous materials such as paint, oil, antifreeze, grease cutters, drums of liquid, etc. Do not let any of this material touch your skin. Do not inhale any fumes that may be present.  Remain upwind.  Refer to Hazardous Waste for additional information.

Use caution when handling broken glass, sharp objects, and so on.

Do not attempt to pick up hypodermic needles or medical waste--contact the local health department and tell them the location.

Do not attempt to remove explosive materials such as unexploded ammunition or dynamite--contact the local authorities for removal.

Methamphetamine labs have been found on public land.  Watch for these materials.  If found, leave in place and report to the Michigan State Police Methamphetamine Investigation Team at 989-732-7588. 
For further information visit www.michigan.gov/meth

Do not confront people you see dumping!

Your personal safety is very important to us. If you happen to see a person dumping, DO NOT APPROACH THEM. If you are able to get a description of the vehicle (type, color, make, approx. year) and/or a license plate number, turn it over to the local authorities (Sheriff, Conservation Officer, or Forest Service Law Enforcement personnel).

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