15 tons of beach debris removed from coastal beaches

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

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An army of more than 1,000 Washington Coast Cleanup volunteers removed an estimated 15 tons of debris from state Pacific Ocean beaches Saturday, as part of Earth Day activities that spanned the Olympic Peninsula.

Last year's cleanup in the same areas produced 13.5 tons of trash, said Jon Schmidt, Coast Savers program coordinator.

Schmidt said the final tally won't be available until May, when the last of the Dumpsters put near beaches for the cleanup have been emptied and the trash weighed.

A group of 25, including 14 Chimacum 4-H stewardship program members, with members of Port Townsend public works, the High Country Horsemen and U.S. Forest Service, cleaned three truckloads of trash from the Quilcene River watershed.

“Most of the trash was down the banks from U.S. Forest Service roads,” said Sue Hay, Jefferson County 4-H coordinator.

The debris included a wheelchair, a hide-a-bed and wooden pallets, she said.

The group also removed a truckload of noxious or invasive weeds, such as Scotch broom, she said.

The Chimacum group will hold a cleanup of the Dosewallips River watershed May 18.

At the coastal cleanup, Schmidt said there was a dramatic increase in milled lumber of the type used in Japanese construction, though it was unclear whether the debris was from the 2011 tsunami.

Organizers estimated the approximate value of the volunteer effort on the Pacific coast alone at about $88,000.

“We depend on the work and dedication of volunteers to help remove the smaller items that are showing up on our coast that would otherwise have devastating impacts on marine life,” said Carol Bernthal, superintendent of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

The coastline of West Clallam and West Jefferson counties include the sanctuary, Olympic National Park and tribal reservations.

“Olympic National Park is grateful to the thousands of volunteers who dedicate their time to look after and protect our coastline,” said Sarah Creachbaum, Olympic National Park's superintendent.

The Washington Coast Cleanup is sponsored by the Washington Clean Coast Alliance.

Since 2000, volunteers have bagged up and hauled off more than 330 tons of ocean trash from Washington's Pacific beaches during this annual event.

Additional cleanups have been added to keep up with the need, he said.

They are scheduled for July 5, to remove Independence Day-related trash, and a major fall cleanup to be held in September.

More information on future cleanups is available at the Washington CoastSavers website at www.coastsavers.org.

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 21. 2013 6:24PM
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