Volunteers to help community, environment
by Trish Clenney Brown
Published - 04/27/06 - 12:01 PM | 1311 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As Earth Month winds down, volunteers from I Love a Clean San Diego (ILACSD) are rolling up their sleeves for the fourth annual Creek to Bay Cleanup. If history repeats itself, this year's event will remove nearly 50 tons of garbage from the county's beaches and waterways on Saturday, April 29.

ILCSD volunteer and events coordinator Sarah Leone said that nearly 7,000 volunteers participated in the past three annual cleanups, removing a total of more than 300,000 pounds of trash and recyclables.

The 9 a.m. to noon event includes both coastal and inland areas because much of ocean and bay pollution comes from urban and residential areas.

"The entire watershed is connected," Leone said. "This is one of the key messages we're trying to get across."

Leone said coastal pollution and debris in the ocean and bay are directly related to inland pollution and litter. The Creek to Bay Cleanup event allows San Diegans to help remove some of that debris before it ends up in the county's waterways.

Several organizations are involved with this year's cleanup event, including Friends of Rose Creek and Surfrider Foundation.

"It's a constant battle," said Karin Zirk of Friends of Rose Creek "We had our last cleanup in September, when we filled three dumpsters with trash and one van-load with recyclables."

Zirk said in previous cleanups, discarded items as diverse as surfboards, bottles, cans, wicker chairs, a window frame, pieces of plastic and paper, and dirty diapers have been found. Additionally, electronic dumping "” the depositing of toxic materials into the watershed "” is an ongoing problem.

"The most important thing for volunteers is that you don't need to know anything to help," Zirk said. "Just show up and we'll put you to work."

Volunteers at the Friends of Rose Creek site can choose one of several options: trash pickup, water trash pickup, invasive plant removal, or working in the native plant garden.

Surfers have always promoted clean water and beaches and have participated in the cleanup since its beginning.

"This event ties directly into our mission of keeping the beach and water clean," said Bill Hickman, chapter coordinator, San Diego County Surfrider Foundation.

Surfrider is so dedicated to that mission that they hold two beach cleanups each month.

Hickman said cigarette butts are the number-one item found in beach cleanups, although there's also a lot of Styrofoam and plastic.

The strangest thing ever found?

"Probably an ATM machine found at Mission Beach during a regular cleanup," Hickman said.

Volunteers don't have to be Surfrider members to help out with the cleanup.

"Bring your family and friends," Hickman said.

Surfrider volunteers will meet at Tourmaline Surf Park at 9 a.m.

There are two cleanups taking place at La Jolla Shores"” a waterborne kayak cleanup and a land cleanup. Kayakers will meet at 9 a.m. at Hike, Bike & Kayak, 2246 Avenida de la Playa, while landlubbers will meet at 9 a.m. near the lifeguard tower at Kellogg Park.

"Look at our Web site and find which locations are not already packed with volunteers," Leone said. "That way you can go where you're needed more."

Gloves, water and bags are provided for volunteers. The first 50 volunteers to show up at each site also get a T-shirt.

For their own protection, volunteers are asked to wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes, long pants, long-sleeved shirts and sunscreen. A hat might also be a good idea.

There is still time to volunteer for the weekend cleanup. For a list of the 40 cleanup locations and to register as a volunteer, visit www.creektobay.org. Registration is not required but does help event organizers plan for the appropriate amount of supplies.

Volunteers must also sign a waiver, which can be downloaded from the ILACSD Website. Waivers can be presented the day of the cleanup, and a parent or guardian must sign the waiver for volunteers under 18.
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