By Sharon Gibbons
After a rainy, cold Friday, Saturday’s Earth Day on April 23rd was sunny, clear and beautiful at the Albany Bulb. After extensive renovation, the Albany Bulb has wonderful trails with extensive views of the Bay, shorebirds floating in the water, and hillsides of blooming flowers and lush spring growth. The Watershed Project hosted a trash clean-up on the beach and out on the trails of the Bulb. Many people came from local communities and several youth groups participated as part of their community service.
“The crazy thing is,” said Kathryn Stambaugh, local Girl Scout troop leader, “we’ve spent an hour in one spot cleaning up!” Albany Girl Scout Troops from Cornell and Marin Schools enjoyed the beach as they focused on cleaning up tiny pieces of plastic along the high tide line. “I like cleaning up the beach,” described girl scout Amy Ford, “because every piece saves an animal’s life.”
Another community youth group from Berkeley, the Squash Drive, brought a large group to the clean-up. “It’s the best day ever,” laughed Alyssa Burks, ‘because we get to play and clean up the earth!” “I like that we help animals stop from getting hurt or dying.” said Jessica Garcia. “There’s lots of plastic in the Bay that people throw in and we need to keep the Bay clean because animals are as important as people,” she adds. The group, which included a wide range of ages, cleaned on the beach and then walked out around the Bulb to clean up litter. Squash Drive has volunteered with other projects sponsored by The Watershed Project. “Working hard and giving back are important,” described Program Director Rachel Fine. Another youth group, the Key Club, from Albany High, came to clean up trash. The Key Club is affiliated with Kiwanis International and does community service.
Representative Barbara Lee joined the clean-up, accompanied by Albany City Vice-Mayor Peggy McQuaid and Albany City Councilman Nick Pilch. Taking time from her busy schedule, she admired the beach and picked up trash to support community efforts. Further down the beach, Robert Cheasty, Executive Director of Citizens for East Shore Parks, assisted Mary Barnsdale, from Albany Landfill Dog Owners Group and Friends, to help school children and other volunteers to use special Sea Turtle Forever screens to clean the beach. “The idea is to sift and remove small plastics before they can break down even further and leach toxins into the water. When that happens, it’s really too late: those chemicals will be in the environment forever. As Marc Ward of Sea Turtles Forever says, ‘Clean the beach to clean the ocean.’” “Citizens for East Shore Parks has hosted beach clean-ups since the 80s before it took off and became an international movement.” said Robert Cheasty.
Father and son duo Pareen and Akash Shah, a second grader at Cornell School in Albany, filled most of a bucket with trash. Pareen said that it was Akash’s idea to come and they had come before. “My teacher has posters about the clean-up in class,” said Akash. Another local volunteer cleaning the beach, Leif Magnuson, said, ‘I think it’s really heartening to see so many people outside. People still care! It reminds you if you go ahead and join and commit, lots of people will join in and together, achieve your goals!”
As she brought her trash bags in to be dumped, Iris Young, volunteer UCB graduate chemistry student, quoted Rachel Carson:
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that endure as long as life lasts.”
As we clean up our wild places close to home, we celebrate Rachel Carson’s commitment to stewardship of the earth and renew our own commitment.