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September 11, 2012 > Coastal Cleanup Day

Coastal Cleanup Day

By Mauricio Segura

September is finally upon us. In a couple of weeks we will bid farewell to the summer and embrace changing colors of fall. For months people have been flocking to Bay Area beaches, lakes, and parks to keep cool while enjoying nature at its best.

Unfortunately, despite waste deposit containers, with human traffic comes human pollution. Even the cups, bags, and candy wrappers that fall in the city streets eventually find their way into sewers, to the Bay and our beaches. Given time to accumulate, this litter not only mars the beauty of these places, but threatens the environment and wildlife.

It is estimated that 9 out of 10 Californians will visit the beach at least once during the summer. In Orange County alone a few years ago, enough garbage was collected from a six-mile stretch of beach to fill ten garbage trucks full of trash every single week! Even more mind blowing is the fact that there are other coastal counties which report even more trash collected. Costs for tax payers in these counties begins at a staggering $350,000.

Plastic is the biggest culprit when it comes to wildlife endangerment. Uncut six-pack rings find their way onto the snouts and fins of marine animals like sea lions, dolphins, otters, sharks, whales, turtles, and more. Once entangled, these animals will develop trouble breathing, swimming, hunting, and most importantly, eating. A trapped animal is, in most cases, a dead animal.

Birds often confuse plastic for food and have been known to feed it to their young. Once in their stomachs, plastic acts as an appetite suppressant, giving a false feeling of being full, eventually leading to death by starvation. Sea turtles can mistake plastic bags for their favorite food, jellyfish, ending their lives in agonizing pain.

Animals aren't the only ones susceptible to the deleterious effects of litter. As items break down, they release chemicals. Cigarette butts are one of the most dangerous pieces of trash as nicotine poisons water. As beach water is tainted and chemical content rises, people swimming in those waters are put at a risk of developing countless skin ailments and worse. In 2011, a record amount of California beach closures illustrated the need to keep beaches and parks as clean as possible.

All of these problems can be greatly reduced by people who care enough to volunteer their time to help clean these areas. This month, beach and park volunteer cleanup crews will be formed throughout the entire state for a series of California Coastal Cleanup Day activities, many occurring on Saturday, September 15.

East Bay Regional Park District is now accepting volunteer signups for the 28th Annual Shoreline Cleanup Day. Volunteers will join park staff in picking up litter from the various shorelines parks, lakes, and creeks in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Attendees are advised to bring water and snacks, wear closed-toed shoes, layered clothes, and sunscreen. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Most cleanups will be held from 8:30 a.m. to approximately noon. One can check the East Bay Regional Park website to choose which area to volunteer at and sign up for.

Milpitas residents can volunteer at Coyote Creek at the McCarthy Ranch Trail Head or Berryessa and Turlacitos Creeks Gill Park on Paseo Refugio near N. Hillview Drive from 9 a.m. to noon. Call (408) 586-2680 to learn more.

Please consider doing your part by volunteering for a few hours. Your work, along with the countless other people you're likely to meet, will help promote the survival of our precious wildlife and preserve the beauty of what makes our part of the world a true gem.

Coastal Cleanup opportunities are available throughout the Bay Area on Saturday, September 15, most from 9 a.m. - 12 noon. Check with your local city, visit: or call (800)COAST-4U.

Local Coastal Cleanup Day activities include:

Alameda County Resource Conservation District
Castro Valley Creek
Amy Evans
(925) 371-0154 x 112
Space is limited; please pre-register at

City of Fremont Environmental Services Division
Val Blakely
(510) 494-4577

East Bay Regional Park District
Shoreline lakes and parks in Alameda and Contra Costa counties
8:30 a.m. - noon
Kevin Fox
(510) 544-2515
1-888-327-2757, option 2

Santa Clara Valley Water District
Kate Slama & Kathy Machado
(408) 265-2607 x2739

City of Milpitas
Steve Smith
(408) 586-2640

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