By Sara Hall | NB Indy
Several hundred people showed up Saturday at the Peter and Mary Interpretive Center to pick up some litter and clean up the Back Bay.
The volunteers were participating in the local event for the California Coastal Commission’s 26th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day.
Mom and daughter duo Liz and Andie Gener of Costa Mesa said they have volunteered for the cleanup event before. Andie, who is in ASB at TeWinkle Intermediate School, said she gets credit for doing community service.
“It’s great to get out, get exercise and do something good for the community,” said Liz Gener. “We’re really enjoying it.”
Tens of thousands of volunteers across California gathered trash from creeks, rivers, lakes, beaches and bays. According to the commission, volunteers picked up 692,203 pounds of trash and 59,228 pounds of recyclable materials.
Volunteers ranged from young kids to their grandparents, people from Newport Beach to Long Beach, first-time garbage gatherers to longtime environmentalists; everyone was on hand to clean up the coast.
Many family groups enjoyed spending time together and helping the environment at the same time, like Stacy and Jeff Trainor with their 22-month-old son, Gavin, and Wyatt Mitchell, 11, and grandma Cathy Schofield.
“We’re a pretty outdoorsy family,” said Schofield.
The family has done other cleanups before and tries to be conscious about the environment when they do outdoor activities, said Jeff Trainor.
More than 200 students from Newport Beach and nearby cities also joined in the effort to clean up the Back Bay, according to a statement from Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends.
Kelli Stueve, Benedicte Bradford and Louise Chupeau, 7, were all picking up trash with the Pegasus School group. Stueve and Bradford, both staff members at the school, said Pegasus has participated in the Coastal Cleanup Day for many years. The school also has a specialist who teaches the students about the environment, said Stueve.
At Newport Bay, trash collectors filled up numerous big black bags. Among the gathered garbage: A chair, large pieces of Styrofoam, cigarette butts, candy wrappers and lots and lots of plastic bottles.
Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends volunteer staff member Dennis Litton has been volunteering for many years and said he has seen all kinds of trash be brought up during the cleanup day. In past years, there have been some odd finds, agreed other volunteer staff members, including a safe, chairs. and a little wooden coffin with a small rat inside.
A change from past years, that both volunteers and event staff noticed, was that Back Bay Dive. was kept open and the cleanup was limited to the west side of the bay.
Litton said it seemed like there were more people this year, but it may have just look that way becasue they were cleaning a smaller area.
There were several areas where they ran out of trash to pick up, he said.
Another effect of the large number of people cleaning all in the same, small area, was the line for the boat to ferry volunteers across the channel to the inner part of the salt marsh. At times during the hot Saturday the line was a 30-minute to hour wait, he said.
The reasons for Back Bay Dri staying open vary, said city manager Dave Kiff.
“We usually get a lot of complaints (on the following Monday) from the people who would otherwise use that road on a sunny Saturday afternoon,” said Kiff.
Calls come in from cyclists, joggers, and walkers, Kiff said, anyone who normally would have been using the road on a warm weekend afternoon.
“It does cause the phones to ring off the hook,” Kiff said.
There is also the possibility that there could be an issue with the American Disabilities Act (ADA), said Kiff, if someone in a wheelchair or with a disability was unable to get access to the Back Bay area.
The city does not close the road often, Kiff said, unless there is a storm or something else that would cause concern for public safety.
“The volunteers, who really do some great work, (and the city) need to find a way to work around an open road,“ Kiff said. “I’m really reluctant to close it.”
Most of the trash in the Back Bay comes from the 154-square-mile watershed that includes Tustin, Irvine and parts of other cities including Santa Ana, Costa Mesa and Lake Forest, said volunteers.
“It’s important to take care of the environment,” said Chupeau, “and not litter.”
For more photos of the Back Bay cleanup, visit newportbeachindy.com.