By Juliana Gonzalez
Saturday, September 17th was our largest volunteer event of the year. We want to thank the thousands of volunteers from Contra Costa County and the City of Albany who came out for California Coastal Cleanup Day.
– 2,729 volunteers cleaned up creeks and shorelines in Contra Costa County and the City of Albany.
– 37 cleanup sites from mountaintop to marsh, stretching from the Albany Bulb to the Antioch Marina and inland from Baxter Creek to the Marsh Creek watershed.
– 17.4 tons of trash and 0.4 tons of recyclables picked up by volunteers over the course of three hours.
The most popular sites this year were the Marsh Creek watershed with 490 volunteers hosted by Friends of Marsh Creek, followed by the Antioch area with 450 volunteers hosted by the City of Antioch, and Shimada Friendship Park in the South Richmond Shoreline hosted by the Watershed Project and Supervisor John Gioia with 425 volunteers. The trashiest site this year was Breuner Marsh, hosted by East Bay Regional Park District. Volunteers at the marsh hauled large amounts of dumping materials such as tires, electronics.
At Shimada, the Flotsam Flotilla took to the water with a group of 15 kayakers that intrepidly cleaned the South Richmond shoreline. The Flotilla removed over 300 pounds of trash from the Bay and were still able to meet the land-based volunteers in time to greet State Assemblyperson Nancy Skinner, Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia and Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.
All public officials and hundreds of volunteers signed The Watershed Project’s pledge to reduce their individual plastic footprint by bringing their own canvas bag to the store, their coffee mug to work and pursuing other simple individual actions that collectively will turn the tide on marine debris.
The Watershed Project seized the opportunity for public education by bringing educational displays to many cleanup sites. We joined the Coastal Commission campaign to promote “Bring Your Own” practices during the cleanup, successfully reducing the environmental impact of the event. Approximately 30% of the volunteers at Shimada used reusable buckets instead of plastic trash bags.
Lastly, volunteers enjoyed lunch BBQ celebrations all over the county. At Shimada, the lunch was provided by County Supervisor John Gioia. Volunteers had a chance to reflect on the surprising amounts of small pieces of plastic and Styrofoam found along the shoreline. This year the most commonly found items along the South Richmond Shoreline were food wrappers, followed by plastic cap lids, plastic bags and Styrofoam pieces.
Volunteers also took my challenge to look for my little mermaid doll, and despite the fact that nobody found her, volunteers did find many treasures including a eulogy message in a bottle– a solemn reminder that the Ocean is sacred to all of us and we must work together to care for it.
There were 37 locations in Contra Costa County and as the designated Coastal Cleanup Coordinator for the County, The Watershed Project coordinates with many partners to make the event bigger each year. Partners for the 2011 event included: California Coastal Commission; Office of Supervisor John GIoia, Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed, East Bay Municipal Utility District and East Bay Regional Park District; the cities of Albany, Antioch, Pittsburg, Oakley, Bredwood, Richmond, Martinez and Pinole; Alhambra Watershed Council, Citizens for East Shore Parks, Friends of Rodeo Creek, Contra Costa Public Works, EarthTeam Environmental Network, Los Medanos College, Making Waves, REI, and many merchants and individuals from all over the county that support and volunteer to manage all the events around the County.