Volunteers turn out in force for coastal cleanup

jlavelle@thetribunenews.comSeptember 21, 2013 

Volunteers hunt for trash on Avila Beach during the 29th annual California Coastal Cleanup on Saturday.

COURTESY OF MICHAEL HEATER

A gray curtain of drizzle failed to dampen the determination of San Luis Obispo County residents Saturday morning as they scoured 28 beaches from San Simeon to the Oceano Dunes for the 29th annual California Coastal Cleanup.

"We had 1,665 volunteers this year, including 375 kids, which is 664 more than last year,” said Michael Heater, coordinator for the cleanup day in the county. “I was afraid people wouldn’t come out because of the weather, but they did. It was beautiful to watch.”

Heater is program coordinator for the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo (ECOSLO), a nonprofit that partnered with the California Coastal Commission to organize the local cleanup. The annual statewide event enlists thousands of volunteers to clean up California’s beach and inland waterways.

ECOSLO raised $14,000 in cash and in-kind donations to cover expenses related to the cleanup. “We start with a zero dollar budget and the local community really supports our efforts,” Heater said.

Countywide, volunteers collected 4,625 pounds of trash and 1,086 pounds of recyclables. The most common debris is cigarette butts and bottle caps, although unusual items are always part of the mix, he said.

In addition to the rosary, underwear, machete, meat thermometer and other oddities, volunteers in Cambria found and returned a lost credit card. Grover Beach volunteers made the sad discovery of a dead dog in a suitcase.

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