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1,150 Volunteers Collect 5,180 Pounds of Debris During Santa Barbara County’s Coastal Cleanup Day

Isla Vista beaches, Lake Los Carneros get extra attention as cleanup stretches between Rincon and Guadalupe Dunes

The largest volunteer cleanup in Santa Barbara County had another huge year. With 93 percent of the sites reporting Saturday, 1,157 volunteers collected more than 5,138 pounds of trash and 1,042 pounds of recyclables from 29 sites from Rincon Beach Park on the Ventura County line to Guadalupe Dunes in the North County.

Some strange items were dug up again this year. A mattress and boxspring at different sites, an outboard boat engine, a 40-pound chunk of lead, VHS tapes and a buried chain-link fence were all found at local sites.

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Hard-working volunteers at White Rock in Los Padres National Forest celebrate their collection of 70 pounds of debris from along the Santa Ynez River. Stephanie Holthaus, the captain, at center, directed 15 volunteers with support from forest service rangers. (Santa Barbara County Public Works Department photo)

“Who really needs that at the beach?” asked Jeff Simeon, Santa Barbara County’s cleanup coordinator. “Conventional trash at the beach is shocking, too. Last year, volunteers collected over 8,000 cigarette butts, 2,400 food wrappers and 780 plastic bags! This year at East Beach alone, over 1,250 cigarette butts and 234 plastic bags were found.”

Two sites that really needed help this year were Isla Vista beaches and Lake Los Carneros. In Isla Vista and at UCSB, 78 volunteers collected 1,631 pounds, or 21 pounds per person. There were approximately 300 pounds of ivy removed for habitat restoration at Lake Los Carneros by 11 volunteers, for a whopping 27 pounds per person in only three hours.

“This event uses hundreds of bags and single-use gloves, but we don’t have to make that waste,” said Simeon. “Over 390 volunteers brought their own reusable buckets or bags for trash and gloves to clean up with. This helped us to save hundreds of bags and gloves for future cleanup events.

“It’s terrific seeing our community step up to keep our beaches, creeks and lakes clean,” said Simeon, who coordinates the event for the county’s Public Works Department.

The event is supported by partnerships with the cities of Carpinteria, Goleta and Santa Barbara, the State Parks and the county Parks Department. The cleanup is made possible by the hard work and services provided by local businesses, such as MarBorg Industries and Waste Management, local nonprofit organizations and community members who act as beach and creek captains.

“We would like to thank everyone who makes this great event possible,” Simeon said.

The local cleanup is part of California Coastal Cleanup Day, presented by the California Coastal Commission, and International Coastal Cleanup Day, organized by the Ocean Conservancy.

In 1986, two women, one in Oregon and one in Texas, became concerned about debris on our ocean’s shorelines. This was the start of the Ocean Conservancy’s beach cleanups, which grew into the international Coastal Cleanup Day. Last year in California alone, more than 82,500 volunteers removed more than 1.2 million pounds of trash and recyclables from our beaches, lakes and waterways.

Volunteers are crucial to the world’s largest one-day cleanup effort. Not only do they help improve the health of the ocean and its wildlife, but the data collected provides important information regarding the types, quantity and location of marine debris. This data is analyzed by the Ocean Conservancy and distributed to governments and organizations throughout the world in the hopes that it will help direct policy and funding to preserve our oceans, rivers and lakes.

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