By Mark A. Diaz
For the fourteenth year in a row, volunteers participated in the Annual Coastal Cleanup Day hosted by the Environmental Center for San Luis Obispo County (ECOSLO). The extent of the debris gathering extended 35 sites that stretched up and down Central Coast shores as well as Lopez and Santa Margarita lakes and Sinsheimer Park. The event is part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by the Ocean Conservancy.
Mary Ciesinski, ECOSLO executive director, reported that 1,230 people volunteered and picked a total of 2.8 tons of debris, 2.3 tons of trash and an additional 963 pounds of recyclable materials.
“Overall,” said Ciesinski, “what we’ve heard and what we can see with the numbers is that there is less trash this Cleanup than in years prior. We added six sites this year and had less sites than last year.”
Several local organizations participated in the event including Avila’s Central Coast Aquarium, the Marine Mammal Center and Los Padres ForestWatch. Cynthia Replogle, vice chair of the environmental advocacy organization, Surfrider Foundation of SLO helped organize the cleanup in the Arroyo Grande Creek in Oceano. Replogle said that her team worked with the city because it crossed several privately owned properties and that the area has been used as an illegal dumpsite.
There’s a lot of illegal dumping there around A.G. Creek,” said Replogle, “and this was our first time cleaning up the site.”
The creek in Oceano turned out to be the dirtiest site. Surfrider gathered 785 pounds of trash that consisted of 25 pounds of recyclable material. She said the creek also had several discarded woods pallets clogging its path and three tires that always seem to make their ways into the waterways.
Replogle said that there is still a lot of debris still left in the creek including a couple of appliances, but her team was not equipped to gather all the trash. She plans to follow up with officials and private property owners to ensure the rest of the debris is cleared.
The second dirtiest site was Pirate’s Cove with 779 pounds of trash. However ECOSLO has already performed several independent cleanups at the site once after Memorial Day and the other after the Fourth of July. Those two cleanups produced 1,400 lbs. of trash that does not include the 800 pounds of debris found on the last event which occurred Saturday, Sept. 9. Ciesinski said that many discarded glass bottles contribute to making the amount so heavy.
Among the oddest things found were a mattress, a 20-year-old wallet and if anyone lost a ski boot in Sinsheimer Park, the volunteers found it.
For last year’s event, 1,370 San Luis Obispo Volunteers gathered 2.5 tons of trash and 1,449 lbs. of recyclable material. All the environmentally conscious citizens collected 6.4 tons of debris.
ECOSLO received a grant for the California Coastal Commission to keep beaches and waterways clean. The non-profit’s program called Beach Keepers hosts cleanups throughout the year. The next event is set for Saturday, Oct. 6. Interest parties can visit ECOSLO.org/event for more information. The non-profit has also created a list of environmentally conscious organizations and group on their website; it can be found at ECOSLO.orb/the-hub.