This month’s highlight of volunteer effort goes to the wonderful folks who gather each spring and fall to rid Calhoun County beaches of trash, especially plastic debris. TSFMag is onboard, sponsoring lunch and refreshments for the group during the event scheduled for April 21, 2018. The great folks at Yeti are also onboard and have donated several of their popular Rambler drinkware products as door prizes for the event. Interested parties may contact Rhonda Cummins (see contact info below) to participate in this and future cleanup events.
Hit the Beach and Bag Some Plastic
By Rhonda Cummins*
It has been said that everything is bigger in Texas. Over the last 23 years, the Billy Sandifer Big Shell Cleanup at the Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) each March comes to mind. As does the Port Mansfield Channel & PINS clean up that spun off of Billy’s which just completed cleanup number 10 in March. Yet, the Adopt-A-Beach program, sponsored by the Texas General Land Office, started in 1986 under Commissioner Gary Mauro. This all volunteer effort hits beaches statewide each April and September, usually on the third Saturday of the month.
Considered the nations’ biggest all-volunteer coastal cleanup, the Adopt-A-Beach coast-wide cleanups in spring and fall take place at 27 of Texas’ most popular tourist beaches. "The Texas Coast is a go-to destination for vacationers from all over," said Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush. "Travelers want to play in the sand under the Texas sun. Late last summer Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Texas coast, but the recovery is well underway and this is an opportunity for folks to pitch in and declare that the Texas coast is back in business. The Adopt-A-Beach program has been instrumental in keeping beaches clean for more than three decades, aiding tourism and commercial fishing industries while maintaining the coast for Texas families.”
Plastic is a common theme in all the cleanups. More and more plastic is collected every year from the gulf and bay beaches. Whether blown out of vessels, dropped by careless visitors, washed down rivers, or carried by currents of wind and waves, the plastic just keeps coming and coming. And everyone knows that water and plastic do not mix. Marine life and birds are particularly impacted by marine debris, particularly plastics, as it can cause entanglement and be mistaken for food. Ingesting plastic is unhealthy in many ways.
Another common theme for all the cleanups is dedicated volunteers that show up rain or shine to clean the beaches of all types of plastic, cigarette butts, food wrappers, beverage cans, glass bottles, fireworks, construction materials, all types of Styrofoam , fishing gear, tires, household items, etc. The volunteers come from all over and the trash they collect does too. Volunteers record data on the trash to learn more about the causes of marine debris and to help mitigate pollution along Texas' 367 miles of coastline.Cleanup organizers also work to educate the public about the problems of marine debris and beach litter. This awareness has led to more efforts by groups and individuals year round and is turning the tide on trash.
*Rhonda Cummins is the Calhoun County Extension Agent for Coastal and Marine Resources with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service and the Texas Sea Grant College Program. She has served as the volunteer coordinator for Magnolia Beach cleanup site since 2009.Rhonda D. Cummins - Calhoun County Extension Agent │ Texas Sea Grant College Program │ Texas A&M AgriLife Extension p: 361-552-9747 f: 361-552-6727 │ [email protected]