Volunteers in Santa Cruz, Monterey counties clear garbage from waterways, beaches

Efforts are part of 30th annual Coastal Cleanup Day
By Calvin Men, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Ranger Assistant Carl Becker pulls tangled fishing line off of a stump that was once was submerged at the Loch Lomond Recreational Area on Saturday. (Kevin Johnson -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Ranger Assistant Carl Becker pulls tangled fishing line off of a stump that was once was submerged at the Loch Lomond Recreational Area on Saturday. (Kevin Johnson — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

FELTON >> Loch Lomond Recreational Area, which was closed by the city because of historically low water levels opened its gate one more time Saturday for volunteers to help with maintenance.

Part of the 30th annual Coastal Cleanup Day, nine volunteers scoured the shores Saturday morning looking for any debris they could find.

The event was celebrated across the Central Coast and in more than 100 countries around the world, with volunteers working to remove garbage from waterways and beaches. Save Our Shores lead the local charge, coordinated more than 3,800 volunteers at more than 70 sites.

“It’s kind of a catch all for us,” said Rachel Kippen, spokeswoman for Save Our Shores, a Santa Cruz-nonprofit that organized cleanups in the Central Coast. “So we really want to clean as many locations as we can on the day of the event.”

The volunteers hauled in 21,979 pounds of trash from 83 sites by the day’s end, according to SOS officials.

Officials even tracked the strangest items found, including a camper shell from a truck, a Christmas tree, syringes and the bow of a shipwrecked boat.

What differentiates the event from other days, such as Earth Day, is that the message is clear cut: keep the planet clean.

“I enjoy it because there’s no confusion about what you should be doing: Get out and pick up trash,” she said.

Carina Chen searches for bits of old fishing wire, lead weights and other garbage at Loch Lomond Recreational Area on Saturday at the 30th annual Coastal Cleanup Day. (Kevin Johnson -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Carina Chen searches for bits of old fishing wire, lead weights and other garbage at Loch Lomond Recreational Area on Saturday at the 30th annual Coastal Cleanup Day. (Kevin Johnson — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Kristina Finstad, water reservoir specialist for the City of Santa Cruz, found lost lids from plastic containers, bundles of tangled fishing line and lead weights used by fishermen while she was picking up trash at Loch Lomond.

“We’re trying to reduce the impact to the fish,” she said, adding that some fishing line can take 600 years to decompose.

With the drought, the water level at Loch Lomond dropped by 22 feet, exposing areas that would have otherwise been unreachable.

She said the fishing lines can also trap birds who get tangled in them and become more susceptible to predators or can’t move to catch food.

A short distance away, Carina Chen was digging up fishing line from the bottom of a tree stump. Fishing hooks and lines can snag easily on the stumps, which are normally submerged underwater in a non-drought year.

Chen lives by the beach and often picks up trash there. The difference between the beach and the reservoir are how obvious the trash is.

“At the beach, you can tell what doesn’t belong,” she said. But fishing wire could look like brush and dried plants.

In a regular year, rangers would be unable to reach the fishing line and other debris. But this year, the rangers and volunteers were able to find fishing line without a problem.

Ranger Assistant Carl Beker, left, searches for litter that was formerly under water at Loch Lomond Recreational Area on Saturday during Coastal Cleanup Day. (Kevin Johnson -- Santa Cruz Sentinel)
Ranger Assistant Carl Beker, left, searches for litter that was formerly under water at Loch Lomond Recreational Area on Saturday during Coastal Cleanup Day. (Kevin Johnson — Santa Cruz Sentinel)

Carl Becker, a ranger assistant, picked up 30 pounds of lead fishing weights since he began cleaning the shoreline earlier in the year.

“Personally, I think it’s wonderful,” he said. “Anyone that wants to get involved and help the environment become safer, cleaner place is OK with me.”

Link to original article: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/news/ci_26575546/volunteers-santa-cruz-monterey-counties-clear-garbage-from

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