Coastal cleanup doesn’t go wasted |

Coastal cleanup doesn’t go wasted

More than 180 volunteers spent Saturday morning clearing trash from Tahoe’s shores and waterways.

Tahoe’s cleanup, organized by the nonprofit Clean Tahoe Program, was part of the California Coastal Cleanup Day, as about 50,000 volunteers took to the shores of California over the weekend in a statewide effort to keep the coast clean.

Tahoe’s west and south shores, though hundreds of miles away from the coast, reaped the benefits of the annual event as teams scoured the shoreline and river banks for trash.

After just four hours of work, Tahoe crews collected 114 bags of trash, amounting to 296 pounds of recyclable materials and 953 pounds of garbage, said Joann Eisenbrandt of the Clean Tahoe Program.

Scuba divers pulled at least 55 tires from the bottom of Fallen Leaf Lake.

“The most unusual items found were a smashed-up toilet, clams on South Shore beach and a cup with 12 different bugs neatly arranged inside,” Eisenbrandt said.

There was so much garbage collected along the banks of the Upper Truckee River that a woman used her llamas to haul out the heap.

In a statewide effort, armed with garbage bags and the desire to scour the shores on a sunny Saturday, volunteers picked up rubbish on beach fronts from San Diego to the Oregon border as part of the 16th annual California Coastal Cleanup Day.

In San Mateo County at Thornton State Beach, beer cans, plastic bottles and empty fast food containers were the targets of volunteers, many of whom return each year to rid the beach of refuse.

”I’ve been doing it for 11 years and it’s been getting better every year,” said David Sondergeld, captain of his local cleanup crew. ”The first year we were carrying cars and couches.”

Sondergeld and about 35 other volunteers collected 75 bags of trash weighing 300 pounds.

A few miles down the road, Beach Boys music wafted across San Francisco’s Ocean Beach as volunteers went to work picking up large scraps of lumber, a metal container full of unused syringes and the vertebra from an unidentified sea creature.

With two-thirds of the cleanup sites reporting late Saturday, volunteers gathered more than 194 tons of trash and 19 tons of recyclable material, according to Eben Schwartz of the California Coastal Commission.

The efforts by growing numbers of volunteers make a big dent in cleaning the coast, Schwartz said.

”Volunteers are up at almost every single site and the amount of trash is down a little bit,” Schwarz said.

In Los Angeles County, as temperatures soared above 100 degrees, about 8,500 volunteers braved the heat and collected nearly 30 tons of trash and more than two tons of recyclable items.

The cleanup event in San Luis Obispo took on the flavor of PBS’s ”Antique Roadshow” when volunteers uncovered a book titled ”God Passed By” from the 1950s. The book held two tickets to the 1921 inauguration of President Warren G. Harding, plus five World War II ration books. All were in perfect condition.

Things were a bit more mundane at Twin Lakes Beach in Santa Cruz where volunteers laced up hiking boots as they collected nails from fire pits and discarded cans from rocks. San Jose State University student Robin Maniglia came to a curious realization as she picked up trash there.

”I realized that I may never walk on a beach again without shoes on,” Maniglia said.

State organizers of the annual event say that such debris can harm native plants and animals offshore and pollute the waters.

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