Volunteers drove in from as far as Auburn and Anacortes and beyond, as over 1,000 people joined the Coastsavers cleanup on beaches from Cape Disappointment to Cape Flattery on Saturday, Sept. 21.
Erik Kinslow and Ryan Prothro hit Second Beach at La Push to be part of the cleanup effort. The duo is in the process of moving west from Chicago.
“We figured this would be a great way to explore our new home,” Kinslow said.
Jon Schmidt, Washington CoastSavers coordinator, said, “We prevented hundreds of pounds of plastics, ropes, floats and foam rom being pulled out to sea.”
The last day of summer was true to its coastal nature, offering flashes of clear sunshine and sweeps of rain under cloud-racing skies. It didn’t slow down anybody in their attack on the garbage, not even barefoot girls.
Liam Antrim, Resource Protection specialist for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, ran his end of the extended cleanup at Hobuck Beach, near Neah Bay.
“I’m the boss!” he joked, recognizing that, once they’d registered, the hardy beach-cleaners were going to spread out along the shore of Hobuck beach and the Wyatch and Sooes rivers, supervising themselves under only one set of orders:
“Get that garbage!”
Registration started early in the morning and continued through the day.
Volunteers gathered debris in spotty wind and rain, getting a good workout bending over again and again as they walked. Then they headed back, hauling big bags of garbage, ending up at the Hobuck Campground for a cookout.
The Surfriders Foundation, from Clallam County, organized and ran the barbecue. The control crew was made up of Gary and Debbie Thompson, whose daughter was out doing cleanup duty on the beach. The man on the grill — an anonymous enjoyer — had been surfing for 30 years.
Jane Hielman, at Clallam Bay’s Sunset West Co-op, said that people who had made the long trek to clean Shi Shi beach reported the trail, after several days of the first rains of autumn, was a hard slog, ankle-deep in sticky mud.
Antrim said about 20 people showed up for the cleanup.
“There’s a young crowd,” said Antrim, “With their hats on backwards. They brought in three bags of garbage, then high-fived and and went out to get more.”
It didn’t hurt that the surf offered the young wave-riders the chance to catch a few waves.
A Makah elder showed up with three grandchildren to clean the Sooes beach. Her 7-year-old son filled out the data sheets that would be used to correlate the local cleanup take with national figures.
Since 2007, CoastSavers efforts have been concentrated on the Washington Coast Cleanup which occurs in April every Earth Day weekend. The expansion of CoastSavers efforts was largely due to a grant from Ocean Conservancy.
Beaches are getting cleaner as communities take up the challenge to outdo each other for who has the cleanest sand and water.
Two 17-year-old girls, McKenna Thompson and Kim Hatfield, from Port Angeles High School arrived with Thompson’s parents. They grabbed a bag, left Mom and Dad and walked out barefoot, showing off toenails painted pink and green.
McKenna Thompson said they’d found a lot of little pieces of Styrofoam, rope, plastic, clothing and bottles.
She added, “It definitely feels good to clean up a beach, because you’re making a difference in the environment.”
Her friend Kim Hatfield, showed team spirit: “You should care about where you live and have pride in it and keep it clean.”
Asked about the weather, Hatfield exclaimed happily, “It’s sunny!”
CoastSavers runs two cleanups a year. The April event has been celebrated for a decade. September’s event is newer, and so far, fewer people seemed to show up.
But, as Antrim said, “It’s new. It will grow.”
The garbage from the Pacific Asian disasters is less in evidence all the time. Debris fallout is smaller in summer than in the winter, so the September cleanup haul is smaller than April’s. Fewer floats and bottles are bobbing in covered with west Pacific sea-life.
CoastSavers will have its next Coastal Cleanup April 19, 2014.
To see the schedule and volunteer for upcoming coastal cleanups, go to www.coastsavers.org/volunteer.html.