By Brittany Hall-Scharf, UF/IFAS Marine Extension Agent
Florida Sea Grant and UF/IFAS Extension in Hernando County are teaming up with local businesses, clubs, and county government to host the 2019 International Coastal Cleanup in Hernando County. This International Cleanup began more than 30 years ago when communities rallied together to keep their beaches pristine. Now, thousands of volunteers from around the world can participate in this international cleanup through a location near them.
During the 2018 cleanup, volunteers enhanced 27 miles of Hernando’s coastal communities by removing trash from salt marshes and coastal roadways. By the end of the day, 290 volunteers had collected over 11,700 individual pieces of trash ranging from food wrappers to construction debris. Plastics, including an inflatable island float, made up 58% of all items found.
Despite what one may assume, marine debris is not just abandoned fishing gear. In fact, the top five items collected during Hernando County’s 2018 coastal cleanup were cigarette butts (24%), food wrappers (11%), beverage cans (11%), plastic beverage bottles (10%), and glass bottles (8%). The trash that is extracted during cleanup events originates from both land-based and water-based activities. Consequently, heavy rains and storms contribute to and facilitate the debris pathway into our coastal areas. Therefore, it is important that we work together throughout the year to prevent debris from entering these precious systems.
How can you help?
Join us for our annual Hernando County Coastal Cleanup! You can participate via land and sea!
When: Saturday, September 21, 2019
Time: 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
Check-in Location*: Linda Pedersen Park (6300 Shoal line Blvd., Weeki Wachee, Florida)
Can’t attend the cleanup in person? We would like to provide our volunteers with the items to make our coastal cleanup as safe and successful as possible. Please contact our office if you would like to donate towards this event.
*We ask that all volunteers check-in at our Linda Pedersen Park location to fill out paperwork, obtain collection supplies, and to be assigned a location. All trash must be returned to our Linda Pedersen location to ensure of proper disposal. If necessary, prior arrangements can be made for groups participating out on the water.
UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County is a free service that provides solutions for your life. Extension programs are open to all persons without regard to race, color, sex, age, disability, religion, or national origin.