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Mar 06 2017

600 Pounds of Plastic Debris ‘Put in its Place’

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

ODA Volunteer Shoreline Cleanup Crew at work in Los Alamitos BayThe rains we’ve been experiencing this winter in Southern California are bringing much-needed water to our parched ecosystems. An unfortunate byproduct of our “single use (plastic) society” is that as the water flows in, our wetlands and beaches get covered with layers of plastic that wash in through our streams and rivers. 

On Sunday, March 5th, a small group of ODA volunteers decided to go back to the same spot that we’d cleaned up recently in Huntington Harbor called Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge. Even though we removed 400 pounds of debris just two weeks ago, when we got to the site, it was a mess again.

Undaunted (well mostly), we grabbed our gear, climbed down the ladder that we’d brought with us, and proceeded to peck away at the massive mess o’debris.  Most of it was at the high tide line, but it was also embedded in the tidal grasses. 

ODA Cleanup Crew removing plastic debrisPlastic debris in Huntington Beach Bay is cleaned up by ODA

We had a great mix of return and first-time volunteers with us. Two female veteran ODA volunteers brought friends: Briana Beto attended the cleanup along her friend Michael, and Silke Turner participated with her buddy James Vartanian. We were delighted to be joined by two more first-time Shoreline Cleanup Volunteers Dee Woods and her husband Kurt. Regulars Lisa Davis and Jim Lieber joined me in rounding out the crew.

Ocean Defenders Jim Lieber, Michael and Brianna More Ocean Defenders: Lisa, Jim, Dee and Kurt Woods

We arrived at 9am, and timed it just right, as the low tide was at 10. We proceeded to work nonstop for the next four hours and removed roughly 600 pounds of plastic!

Before and After: Dee and Kurt Woods

This area is a really nice site. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the San Bernadino mountains, which right now are capped with snow. We were treated to nice views of some really cool birds, like the long-billed curlew, marbled godwit, and quite a few others that I couldn’t identify.

Long-billed curlewWaterbird and godwit

We’ll continue to do these wetland cleanups until the rains stop and we can get Mr. Barker’s LegaSea back out on the water. Stay tuned.

Clean shorelineOur work paid off. The wildlife now has a clean, plastic-free shoreline!

We hope you can make the next one! This is hard work, and it is really rewarding when you get to see how much you pull out, how much you improve the landscape—and you realize this stuff will NOT be out there messing up our beaches and oceans or killing animals.

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