At the end of a busy summer tourist season, tons of trash have been left behind on beaches along the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Coast.
Hundreds of volunteers have signed up to gather the debris and properly dispose of it on Saturday — and more are welcome.
Some 60 beaches from Long Beach on the Oregon border to Port Townsend will be combed as part of 2016 International Coastal Cleanup (ICC). ICC is a global cleanup effort organized by the Ocean Conservancy each September.
“We have 261 volunteers registered for all those beaches” as of Thursday afternoon, said Jon Schmidt of Sequim, Washington CoastSavers coordinator, who is responsible for overseeing work in Clallam and Jefferson counties as well as more southern beaches.
“There are tens of thousands of volunteers around the world attacking thousands of beaches and that is a great feeling to be a part of something international to make a difference for the health of our oceans,” Schmidt said.
Washington CoastSavers — which oversees cleanups on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and along the Pacific coast — and Puget Soundkeeper — which oversees beaches in the Seattle area — serve as local cleanup coordinators in Washington state.
The volunteers “are pretty evenly spread out up and and down the coast and into the Strait,” Schmidt said.
More volunteers are needed, Schmidt continued.
“There are some locations where we could certainly use some more volunteers, especially when we look at the beaches around Neah Bay, Shi Shi and Hobuck,” he said.
“They definitely need some volunteers out there. And, when we look at the Strait beaches, there are very few people signed up. We have a good group of the Junior Navy ROTC to clean up Ediz Hook, but other than that a lot of the beaches along the Strait still need some volunteers.”
Forty seaside hikes in Clallam and Jefferson Counties are available for more volunteers who want to comb the North Olympic Peninsula beaches for debris and haul it out.
Volunteers can register to clean beaches from Port Townsend to Neah Bay and down the Pacific Coast to the Kalaloch area, most of which are rated as “easy access.” Only eight are said to be challenging hikes.
A full list of beaches where volunteers are needed is available online at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-2016ICC.
For more information or to volunteer help, contact Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, volunteers will be rewarded in several ways:
• Olympic National Park is offering free camping in its coastal campgrounds for volunteers tonight and Saturday night.
• The Surfrider Foundation will offer a barbecue from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Hobuck Campground near Neah Bay.
• The Lost Resort will offer “free famous bean soup,” and the Kalaloch Lodge will give volunteers 15 percent off at its restaurant and gift shop.
• A salmon feed and poetry read are planned in Forks. The free salmon potluck will be served to thank volunteers beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday at Tillicum Park.
This event is offered by the Lions, Surfrider, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, North Pacific Marine Resources Committee and other partners.
During the 2015 International Coastal Cleanup, some 300 volunteers removed 6 tons of debris from the state’s coasts.
More trash was gleaned from beaches during the last beach cleanup, the Washington Coast Cleanup on April 23, when more than 1,400 volunteers removed at least 20 tons of marine debris from more than 50 beaches along the North Olympic Peninsula and down the Pacific coast to Long Beach.
The April event is aimed at cleaning up beach debris brought in by winter storms, while the September event aims at the removal of refuse left behind by summer visitors, Schmidt said.
“We have debris that comes from all over the Pacific that washes up throughout the winter,” he said.
“In September, we are really cleaning up local trash that has been left on the coast from different beach activities throughout the summer.”
Volunteers hope to “clean our own mess up,” Schmidt said, “before it gets carried out into the Pacific and broken into tiny pieces,” eventually joining the Great Pacific garbage patch — a gyre of marine debris particles in the central North Pacific Ocean.
“We are all contributing to that” garbage patch, Scmhidt said.
“The longer [trash] stays on the beach, the more it breaks up into smaller pieces and becomes easier for the birds and fish to ingest,” he said.
“Pretty soon, we are ingesting that same plastic through the food chain.”
The most common type of garbage found during clean-ups is plastic water bottles, Schmidt said.
“It is hard for me to see people using water bottles after being involved with so many beach clean ups because they are the number one item that we see,” he said.
To register and for more information, see www.coastsavers.org.
Features Editor Chris McDaniel can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at email@example.com.