Washington Coast Cleanup 2019
By: James Roubal: Washington CoastSavers Coordinator
Washington CoastSavers “is an alliance of partners and volunteers dedicated to keeping the state’s beaches clean of marine debris through coordinated beach cleanups, education and prevention.” The 2019 Washington Coast Cleanup on April 20th engaged 1,030+ volunteers who removed more than twenty tons of trash from at least sixty beaches on the outer coast and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Lee Taylor, Acting Superintendent of Olympic National Park believes in the dedication of our volunteers. “Olympic National Park protects over 70 miles of wild Pacific coast and the only way we can keep these remote and beautiful beaches clean is with the help of volunteers and our partners at Washington CoastSavers.”
Every winter, intense storms frequent the Washington coast with heavy rainfall and winds blowing up the coast from the south. These winds drive marine debris from out in the ocean onto the beach, negatively impacting the health of vital marine ecosystems. Washington CoastSavers works with thousands of volunteers and a robust alliance of partners to remove thousands of pounds of debris from Washington beaches every spring and fall during two large annual cleanups, and other smaller cleanups throughout the year.
The recent spring cleanup effort discernibly reduced the amount of marine debris on the coastline and helped protect the coastal habitat for animals that use the beach and near-shore environment. Additionally, the cleanup provided the opportunity for individuals to be active stewards of their public beaches, restoring the beauty of these special places. Some of our loyal volunteers have told me they have been cleaning the beaches for over thirty years.
Dr. Nancy Messmer, Pacific Northwest Environment Chair for Lions Clubs International and founding member of the Washington Clean Coast Alliance/CoastSavers is moved by the devotion of our volunteers. “Beach cleanup volunteers inspire me! Each year, I am in awe of the enormous effort many people make to get to the coasts of Washington State, comb the beaches for marine debris, and tote loads of net, rope, floats and all manner of plastics to safe recycling and or disposal sites. Good organizing, great good-spirited volunteerism, and follow-up changes in personal practices will lead us to a healthy ocean and healthy lives.”
Volunteers hauled away an estimated 30,000 lbs. of plastic water bottles, household trash, lost fishing gear, and other types of washed up debris that kill or poison our coastal wildlife and spoil the natural beauty of our shorelines. The approximate value of the volunteer effort totaled nearly $100,000!
A group of enthusiastic volunteers cleaning Ruby Beach (above) and Twin Harbors State Park (below). Some of our volunteers have told CoastSavers they have had their kids participate in the cleanups since they were only three or four years old. Photo credit: Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (above) and Tracy Brigham (below).
“As one of the great philosophers [Dr. Suess], of our times said, ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’ Marine debris is everybody’s problem and the coastal cleanup is our chance to show the ocean some tender care,” emphasizes Carol Bernthal, the Superintendent of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
Together, because of the commitment from our faithful volunteers, community groups, site coordinators, and steering committee members, our efforts are stronger for a cleaner planet.