The Connecting People with Nature High School Career Experience Program at Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge is hosting a Beach Cleanup on Saturday, June 30. The cleanup will start at 9 a.m. and end by 11 a.m. All are invited to volunteer. Volunteers should bring water and wear sunscreen and comfortable shoes. Students can expect at least two community service hours.
Coastal and marine debris is not simply an ocean issue. It is seen every day: fast food containers that line the highways, cigarette butts that scatter the beaches, plastic bottles that blow down the streets. This litter finds its way from roads, parking lots and grasslands to wetlands, guts and oceans; no ecosystem is exempt. Debris can release toxic chemicals into the environment that can damage the land, the plants that grow on it and the water within it. Wildlife can also ingest debris or become entangled, which may lead to their death – a loss that we can all help prevent.
Preventing the litter from getting into the environment is the first step in combating these issues of damage to land and sea. No one wants to be a “litter bug;” yet often, we cause these problems unknowingly. Take, for instance, the ubiquitous plastic grocery bag. While most of these grocery bags are thrown into the garbage, St. Croix’s landfill is too full and winds pick lightweight plastic items and they all come back down—most end up in the ocean. Unfortunately, these bags resemble jellyfish, a food source for many marine species and a favorite snack for threatened and endangered sea turtles.
Teams of volunteers will roam the beaches at Sandy Point collecting the trash they find. To volunteer, simply show up at the gate at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30. Come as an individual or come as a team. There will be a caravan to the beach at 9:15 a.m.
Bring a water bottle and wear sunscreen and close-toed shoes.