Spring-cleaning Saturday at Laurel Lake

Posted: April 05, 2013

Walt Whitman loved the waters of what is now Laurel Springs.

In the late 19th century, the renowned poet wrote verse in the corner of Camden County where Crystal Springs empties into the Big Timber Creek.

But the waterway where Whitman also enjoyed skinny-dipping and mud-bathing is now threatened by sedimentation, particularly in the Laurel Lake portion.

"Twenty-five or 30 years ago, the lake was anywhere from 4 to 10 feet deep. Now it's from 4 inches to 3 feet, max," said Borough Council President James Redstreake, an organizer of the first large-scale cleanup in several years. The water level will be further lowered to facilitate removal of debris, including tires and shopping carts.

Volunteers are invited to assemble at 9 a.m. Saturday at Crystal Springs Park, Lakeview and Elma Avenues. Borough firefighters, members of the South Jersey Land and Water Trust, local Scout troops, and residents of neighboring Lindenwold and Stratford plan to pitch in.

"We hope to make the lake as pristine as possible," said Elizabeth Kuehner Smith, a Floridian whose family has owned land along the water for generations. Her group, Friends of Laurel Lake, seeks to preserve that ground as open space "in perpetuity."

Contact Kevin Riordan

at 856-779-3845, kriordan@phillynews.com,

or follow on Twitter @inqkriordan. Read the Metro columnists' blog, "Blinq," at www.phillynews.com/blinq.

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