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Guest Commentary: Coastal Cleanup a big help in international pollution problem

By Staff | Sep 30, 2015

By Trish Fancher

My first International Coastal Cleanup experience as Executive Director of Keep Lee County Beautiful this past Saturday was both inspiring and sad.

Sad because, with gloves and a bucket, I found our stretch of coast still needs help. Inspiring because of the many volunteers throughout the county who are committed to keeping the ocean clean and healthy.

Ocean trash truly is a global problem that affects human health and safety, endangers marine wildlife and costs countless millions in wasted resources and lost revenue.

At its core, however, ocean trash is not an ocean problem; it is a people problem perpetuated by the often unwitting practices that industry and people have adopted over time. I am convinced we can solve it if we have the audacity to confront the problem head-on.

For the past 27 years Keep Lee County Beautiful has inspired thousands of volunteers, as well as industry players, to take action by removing and recording trash during the International Coastal Cleanup.

This year an estimated 2,050 volunteers removed 2.5 tons of litter and debris from our beaches and waterways, a decrease of 1.5 tons over 2014, with cigarette butts once again being the #1 item collected. We are making progress, but must remain vigilant!

In addition to the annual litter and debris removal, this year KLCB hosted the 1st Annual Mangrove Mania in the North Spreader Canal in NW Cape Coral.

Even with tides higher than expected, the 140 volunteers were excited as they placed the 10,000 red mangrove propagules in the soft soil along the water’s edge.

In a few months students and scientists will head back to the area to study the growth and success rate of the planting.

Both projects were made possible from support of the following: The Commons Club at the Brooks, Chris-Tel Construction, Suncoast Beverage Sales, Waste Pro, LW Marketing, Advanced Disposal, Coca Cola Beverages Florida, Preferred Materials, Manheim Fort Myers, Bouchard Insurance, Lee County Solid Waste Division, Lee County Parks & Rec., Town of Fort Myers Beach, Royal Scoop Ice Cream, Buffalo Chips, Doc’s Beach House, Beach and Tennis Club, Suncoast Portable Sanitation, Lovers Key State Park, Marine Forest Research, UPS, Captain Jack Boat Tours, NW Cape Coral Neighborhood Association, Gulf Coast Kayaks, Cape Coral Parks & Rec. and Youth & Geriatric Paddling Society.

Keep Lee County Beautiful, Inc., established in 1989, is the county’s largest volunteer-based community action and education organization.

This local nonprofit forms public-private partnerships and programs that engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community environments. For more information, visit www.klcb.org.

-Trish Fancheris is Executive Director of Keep Lee County Beautiful, Inc.