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Help clean up Alabama's coast

By By ROY CHANCERY
Friends of Big Escambia Creek
Come show your support and concern for Alabama's waterways by participating in the 14th Annual Alabama Coastal Cleanup, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 15, in conjunction with the International Coastal Cleanup nationally sponsored by the Ocean Convervancy (formerly the Center for Marine Conservation).
For 13 years, Alabamians have put on their visors, slapped on sunscreen, and headed to their favorite rivers to make a difference in Alabama's coastal environment. During the coastal cleanup, volunteers pick up river trash and record information about the debris found. This cleanup not only rids the waterways of unsightly garbage, it also contributes to an international effort to help shape coastal legislation and promote education on the problems associated with marine debris.
Marine debris is trash and waste discarded in the water. Each year, thousands of marine mammals, sea birds and turtles are killed when they become entangled in marine debris. Others die when they eat plastic or styrofoam which can become lodged in their throats and cause starvation. Marine debris also damages fishing nets, fouls propellers and clogs water intakes.
Last year, more than 3,900 volunteers braved the weather to show their desire to make a difference.
Once again, the most prevalent debris found was cigarette butts. We must remember that cigarette butts are made of plastic, not paper, and take more than 12 years to degrade.
Other items found most frequently, known as "the dirty dozen," include metal beverage cans, foamed plastic pieces, plastic food bags and glass beverage bottles.
This year's volunteers will receive t-shirts, posters, gloves, huggers, decals, food and drinks.
Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups are encouraged to help and badges will be awarded.
Cleanup sites have been established throughout Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia counties. Boat zones are available to reach the areas inaccessible by foot. Volunteers are encouraged to contact us so that we will have adequate supplies on hand, as well as provide boat size restrictions. Volunteers will be furnished with trash bags and data sheets to note the amount and type of trash collected.
Following the cleanup, participants are invited to parties at the Gulf State Park and Cadillac Square on Dauphin Island. Alabama's cleanup is a partnership project between government, business, industry and concerned citizens.
The 2001 Alabama Coastal Cleanup is proudly presented by Cellular South, the Dolphin Sponsor for this event. Cellular South is making a big splash in Baldwin and Mobile counties by once again joining with the community to support the Alabama Coastal Cleanup.
Sea Turtle Sponsors of this annual event are Bebo's Car Wash and Exxon Mobil. Dune Sponsors are Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Alabama Power Company, and Baldwin EMC. Pelican Sponsors are the City of Gulf Shores, Degussa-Huls, Duke Energy, Mitsubishi, The Forum, and Shell. Sea Gull Sponsors are Partners for Environmental Progress (PEP) and Phenolchemie. In kind sponsors include Compass Marketing, ADEM, Baldwin County Commission, BFI, The Ocean Conservancy, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, Kimberly Clarke Corporation, ADCNR Coastal Programs, and Alabama PALS (People Against a Littered State).
To get involved locally, contact me at 850-256-5574 or 256-1254 as soon as possible. The check-in point for this zone will be at Turtle Point Environmental Science Center on Sept. 15 at 8 a.m.
The Alabama Coastal Cleanup is a project of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), Coastal Programs Office, and the People Against a Littered State.