Coastal cleanup sign-up starting

Peninsula Daily News

Volunteers can sign up now for a day at the beach to help clean up the coastline from Cape Disappointment to Cape Flattery.

Washington CoastSavers has organized a West End cleanup on the day of the International Coastal Cleanup, Sept. 21.

It’s the first fall cleanup for the group and the first linked to the international cleanup day, said Jon Schmidt, CoastSavers coordinator, who is based in Sequim.

Since 2007, the group’s efforts have been concentrated on the Washington Coast Cleanup, which occurs in April every Earth Day weekend.

Those cleanups had been organized by Washington State Parks and the Pacific Northwest 4 Wheel Drive Association on the third weekend of April since 1971, Schmidt said.

Thousands around the world will clean beaches Sept. 21, Schmidt said. Participation is free.

“There is a real need to keep debris off of our beaches,” he said. “Plastics are ingested by marine mammals and birds, which leaves them malnourished and at risk of starvation.”

Summer beach cleanups are often less productive than those in April following the winter storms, he said, “but there is still plenty of junk coming from up and down the coast, off of boats and blowing from the shore to the water.”

Concern about marine debris has been raised by the litter, ranging from small floats to large docks, that has washed onto West Coast beaches after the March 2011 tsunami.

“The Japanese government has estimated that the tsunami swept about
5 million tons of debris into the ocean but that 70 percent sank offshore, leaving 1.5 million tons floating,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine debris program.

CoastSavers will provide dumpsters, which cost about $1,000 each to rent, on the beaches.

The Washington coast cleanups typically involve renting at least 10 dumpsters for every event.

Volunteers who aren’t physically able to carry filled bags off the beach are welcome, Schmidt said.

They can serve as registration station beach captains, assisting with registering volunteers and ensuring they fill out the proper paperwork and follow protocol.

Washington CoastSavers is an alliance of public agencies, private organizations and individuals.

Founding members of CoastSavers include representatives of Lions Club International, Discover Your Northwest, Grass Roots Garbage Gang, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic National Park and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

The expansion of CoastSavers efforts are largely due to support from Ocean Conservancy, said Schmidt, who was hired as the first year-round coordinator for CoastSavers in February.

“If you want to support beach cleanup efforts but are unable to participate, you can donate funding to CoastSavers that will be used to keep Washington’s beaches clean,” Schmidt said.

Volunteers can select from dozens of beaches to clean on the Pacific Coast.

For information about the organization and the cleanup, as well as to register, visit www.coastsavers.org.

Last modified: August 25. 2013 6:12PM
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