Worldwide Volunteer Beach Cleanup in September
September 15, 2003
 
September 15, 2003

URBANA--After a summer of beachcombers, boaters, anglers and picnickers, our waterfronts are due for a cleaning. On the morning of Saturday, September 20, you have the opportunity be part of a worldwide coastal cleanup at a beach near you.

The International Coastal Cleanup, sponsored by The Ocean Conservancy for the past 17 years, is held around every major water body in the world and is the largest single-day volunteer event on behalf of the marine environment. Last year, nearly 400,000 people in 100 countries gathered a total of 8.2 million pounds of trash.

In Indiana nearly 1200 volunteers cleaned 31 miles of shore and water. They gathered 28,328 pieces of trash that weighed in at a whopping 190,157 pounds. Twenty-six divers hauled up 102 pounds from below the water’s surface.

"Debris is an eyesore, but it can also be dangerous to wildlife," said Leslie Dorworth, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant aquatic ecology specialist, who will be the site captain at Washington Park in Michigan City, Indiana for this event. “Fishing line and other debris can get wrapped around fish fins or can be mistaken for food by birds and other animals.

"In addition to protecting aquatic life, this effort can keep the lake safe for swimming, fishing and drinking," said Dorworth. "It's also a great opportunity to share a special day at the beach with family, friends or co-workers."

Cigarette butts, fishing line, diapers, six-pack rings, bottles, cans, syringes and tires--all are typical trash found on beaches. The debris found that morning will be carefully listed on datacards. The cards are compiled, analyzed and tracked year by year. "This information can have an influence on public policy or can inspire individuals, organizations and communities to reexamine waste handling practices," said Dorworth.

In addition to Washington Park, Indiana beach sites scheduled for a cleanup on September 20 are Marquette Park, the Hammond Marina, Beverly Shores, Whihala Park in Whiting, Ogden Dunes and the Whiting Robertsdale Boat Club.

The coastal cleanup goes from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. If you would like more information about the Washington Park coastal cleanup, contact Sea Grant's site captain, Leslie Dorworth at (219)989-2726 or dorworth@calumet.purdue.edu. For information about other Indiana cleanup sites, contact the Grand Calumet Task Force at (219)473-4246. To find out about coastal cleanup plans in Illinois, contact Christina Forst at the Lake Michigan Federation at (312) 939-0838 x 321 or cforst@lakemichigan.org.

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The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program is one of 31 National Sea Grant College Programs. Created by Congress in 1966, Sea Grant combines university, government, business and industry expertise to address coastal and Great Lakes needs. Funding is provided by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U. S. Department of Commerce, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Purdue University at West Lafayette, Indiana.