Keep Martin Beautiful volunteers clean beaches after Irma
By Pat Austin, for TCPalm
Even Hurricane Irma couldn’t discourage volunteers from turning out for the 22nd annual International Coastal Cleanup on local beaches on Saturday, September 16. Coordinated by Keep Martin Beautiful, more than 1,000 individuals from 42 different civic groups, clubs, scout troops, businesses and families took to the beaches all across Martin County’s coastline - from Bathtub Beach to Jensen Beach - to pick up litter.
“The turnout was incredible,” said Craig Ahal, president of Keep Martin Beautiful. “Despite their own personal situations with loss of power and other stressful issues resulting from the storm, our volunteers came out in droves armed with their garbage bags, gloves and their indomitable spirit to show their love and concern for our beaches.”
Although the ocean waves generated by Hurricane Irma washed away a significant amount of the litter that would normally be present along local beaches, volunteers collected and removed about 3,500 lbs. of litter and marine debris from our coastline. At Stuart Beach, which was Keep Martin Beautiful’s convening location for registration and the post-event volunteer celebration, a 20-yard container was quickly filled with vegetative debris along with additional giant heaps of vegetation – the unfortunate result of Hurricane Irma. At the conclusion of the Coastal Cleanup, volunteers enjoyed Domino’s Pizza donated by Rick Zebib and shared stories about the most interesting things they had found, like a set of false teeth, a message in a bottle, Nerf darts, and Legos.
Keep Martin Beautiful’s local effort for International Coastal Cleanup is part of a global initiative coordinated by the Ocean Conservancy involving nearly a million people in over 100 nations around the world. The Coastal Cleanup includes an important data collection component that serves to educate the public and change littering behaviors. A mobile app called Clean Swell™ was used by volunteers through their cell phones to log the trash they collected. The information was then automatically uploaded to the world’s largest marine debris database. The database is used by scientists, conservation groups, governments and industry leaders to take actions to reach their goal and ensure trash never reaches the beach.
Keep Martin Beautiful thanks it’s many sponsors for their support of the 2017 International Coastal Cleanup, including: Budget Dumpster; The City of Stuart; Cook Electric, Inc.; Crary Buchanan; Continental Shelf Associates; Domino’s Pizza; Ecological Associates, Inc.; Florida Inland Navigational District; The Firefly Group; Jenkin's Landscape; Kohl’s; Live with Grace; Lucido & Associates; Martin County Board of County Commissioners; METCo; The MilCor Group; Mingace Custom Sound, Inc.; Peter’s Hardware; Piper's Landing Yacht & Country Club; Reich & Mancini, P.A.; Safe & Sound Storage; Safety & Boot Center; Sailor's Return; Surfing Evolution & Preservation Foundation; Wallace Auto Group; and Whiticar Boat Works.