Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cleaning crews to hit local beaches


While many locals and tourists alike will hit the beaches throughout Santa Barbara County this weekend for an array of leisurely activities, there’s a good chance the beach bums could be outnumbered by cleaning crews.
If so, feel free to put your drink down, take a break from the waves and join the expected 500 to 700 volunteers that will be intently picking through the sand, bushes and surf at 17 county beaches as part of the 24th annual California coastal Cleanup Day.

Last year local volunteers gathered 1,600 pounds of trash and 1,000 pounds of recyclables between 9 a.m. and noon.
Jody Rundle, program specialist for the county’s Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division, said the county has coordinated the event for the past 12 years. She said anyone interested in offering a helping hand is welcome to do so.
“It’s really important that people come out and participate and we really appreciate it,” she said. “It gives them a chance to help clean up in the areas they use every year.”
Rundle said a “beach captain” will be on hand at each beach location to help coordinate the cleanups and provide needed tools for volunteers.
She said the beaches rotate from year to year, but generally include sites from Rincon Point to the south, to Guadalupe Beach to the north.
Rundle said the most abundant form of litter found on local beaches is cigarette butts, which she said many people incorrectly believe quickly biodegrade.
According to the California Coastal Commission Web site, which sponsors the event, 812,153 cigarette butts were picked up from state beaches during the 1999 cleanup. The Web site also says a cigarette butt takes 200 years to decompose.
Since the cleanup began in 1985, the Web site says 800,000 Californians have picked up 12 million pounds of debris. Also on the Web site are artist renderings of several marine animals, including what appears to be a seagull, which has a cigarette for a beak. In another picture, a tire is substituted for a turtle’s shell and in another, the body of a crab is a styrofoam container.
Aside from helping clean up, Rundle said participants are encouraged to detail on special forms the type of trash that is collected.
She said this information is entered into a database that attempts to identify the sources of the litter.
She also said the numbers compiled from the one-day cleanup, which is an international event, are used by the Ocean Conservancy when applying for grants that are used to pay for additional cleanups.
More information about the cleanup and targeted beaches is available at
Cleanup crews will be at the following Santa Barbara area beaches at 9 a.m.: Arroyo Burro, Butterfly Beach, Chase Palm Park, East Beach, Ellwood Beach, Goleta Beach, Haskell’s Beach, Leadbetter Beach, Santa Claus Land Beach and West Beach.

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