Oregon Officials Need More Volunteers to Patrol, Clean the Coast of Tsunami Debris
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection Staff
(Oregon Coast) – Some 1.5 million tons of debris from the tsunami in Japan last year is estimated to be on its way to the west coast of the U.S., and a large chunk of that will wind up on Oregon beaches. Some of it will again contain invasive species – like the dock that hit Newport last month - while most of it will simply clutter up beaches in an unsightly way. (Photo above by Jim Furnish: tsunami debris found in Gearhart recently.)
All of it will be a problem, and state officials are shorthanded and underfunded to fully address the problem – so a call for volunteers is being sent out to the public to not only help clean up the debris but patrol the beaches of Oregon.
Four large nonprofit groups are stepping up efforts to get citizens to help out, forming the Oregon Marine Debris Team. Coming together are CoastWatch, Surfrider Foundation, SOLVE and Washed Ashore, along with academic partner Oregon Sea Grant, in what could be an unprecedented grassroots, citizen-based patrol and cleansing force.
Above: Cannon Beach in a more pristine state. Many grassroots citizen efforts are being organized here already.
Charlie Plybon, Surfrider Foundation's Oregon Field Manager, said that public agencies are dealing with a whole host of issues regarding this debris, including handling the larger objects and more dangerous ones. There are hotlines being set up, receptacles being placed around beaches and more. But those entities cannot do this alone.
"Cleaning up our beaches relies upon all of us,” Plybon said. “The key to responding to this challenge to our coastal environment lies with educating and activating volunteers. Hundreds of people are needed to monitor every beach, cove and headland for marine debris. Hundreds are needed to turn out for cleanups. Agencies are not able to do that. It is up to us, the people who care for our coastline and take responsibility for it, to step up. Our role as non-profits is to provide the support to make that happen."
Oregonians interested in being part of a citizen-based effort to take care of the Oregon shore are encouraged to sign up and get on the list for notification at this link here. Or you can contact Briana Goodwin, SOLVE, firstname.lastname@example.org or (503) 844-9571, x317, or Phillip Johnson, CoastWatch, email@example.com or (503) 754-9303.
Officials from the Debris Team believe it will take hundreds of volunteers from the public, and currently there is a list of under 100.
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