Oregon beaches received a much needed spring cleaning Saturday. Undeterred by the rain, more than 3,000 volunteers removed over 15,000 pounds of litter and marine debris from the coast. Presented by AAA Oregon, the annual SOLVE Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup took place Saturday, March 24 at 45 cleanup locations from Astoria to Brookings.
SOLVE, an Oregon-based nonprofit aimed at keeping our state clean and healthy, has been organizing bi-annual cleanups along the entire Oregon coast since 1984. Since that time over 260,000 SOLVE volunteers have removed an estimated 3.6 million pounds of debris from the coastline.
"Marine debris is one of the biggest issues facing our oceans and beaches," said Maureen Fisher, CEO of SOLVE. "Every piece of trash picked up today has a tremendous impact on the health of Oregon's wildlife and coastal communities."
"Thank you to all of SOLVE's beach captains, volunteers, and sponsors who dedicated their time to take care of our beloved coast," added Fisher.
Common items found during the event were tiny bits of plastic, cigarette butts, bottle caps, and food wrappers, which can be harmful to both marine life and shorebirds. Unique items found by volunteers included a full bottle of wine at Nehalem Bay, several broken chairs and fenders at Sand Lake, a bag for golf clubs at Yaquina Bay, long crab line at Agate Beach, and a complete barbecue set at Netarts Bay.
In addition to litter on the beach, some of the debris removed today had washed in from the ocean following winter storms and tides. Items ranged from fishing rope, crates, and buoys to glass and plastic bottles.
There were many inspiring stories from across the coast.
Volunteers at the Sand Lake and Tillamook area beach cleanups brought in the largest amount of debris, totaling over 2,200 pounds. After the Sand Lake cleanup, participants were treated to a post-event potluck.
The Cannon Beach cleanup was one of the largest cleanups on the coast, bringing out over 200 volunteers, who cleaned beaches from Ecola State Park to Arch Cape. The Surfsand Resort encouraged their guests to participate in the cleanup, and the Haystack Rock Awareness Program will be turning the tiny plastic pieces collected into jewelry.
In order to divert some of the marine debris from the landfill, SOLVE partnered with the Washed Ashore Project in Bandon. Artists will wash the debris, and turn it into educational art sculptures.
Event Presenting Sponsor, AAA Oregon, hosted a volunteer photo contest and joined four of the cleanup sites with over 50 employees.
"Taking care of our beautiful state has always been a priority for AAA and our employees," said Tim Morgan, CEO of AAA Oregon, and a native Oregonian.
"We are proud to join fellow Oregonians from across the state and continue the annual tradition of cleaning up our beaches for present and future generations alike."
Oregonians who were not able to make it to the beach Saturday can still make a difference by picking up litter in their neighborhood, local park or along the beaches any time of year. Join a local SOLVE project, or create your own. Learn more at solveoregon.org.
The Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup is presented by AAA Oregon. Additional sponsors include Fred Meyer, NW Natural, Surfsand Resort, The Standard, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, K103fm, KOIN 6, and local coast haulers.