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Coastal CleanUp makes big haul

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By Ada Lang

The good news is that Cedar Key’s coastline is cleaner than it was a week ago. The bad news is it is home to too many people who think that tossing something off their boat or out the car window is just fine. The interesting tidbit is that BudLite is the drink of choice for those people.

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This past Saturday, about 50 volunteers, young to old, signed in at the Cedar Key Marina and set out with garbage bags and gloves for the 25th Annual International Coastal CleanUp. The prize was not simply the personal satisfaction of helping cleanup around the area but a really good looking T-shirt and for some, a giant bag of M&MS.

Chris Reynolds, his wife Linda Seyfert and their children, Chloe and Ridley, spent the couple’s 17th wedding anniversary cleaning up the area they have tackled for the past three years - Whiddon Avenue between the convenience store and the school. They were later rewarded by Vice-Mayor Sue Colson with a giant bag of candy for collecting the greatest volume of trash.

The use of two boats, owned by Captain Doug Maple and Island Hopper, were donated to the cleanup effort to shuttle volunteers to and from some of the outer islands. Pam Darby, John Kasbohm and George Pelt of the Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge brought an airboat to reach those areas where only an airboat will do.

Volunteers Bob and Jeri Treat were happy to announce that they barely found any trash in the areas they covered. Even more impressive were two young girls who arrived alone and helped where they could. Ariel Alexander, 11, set off with
other volunteers on a boat. Taryn Epperson, 13, rode off on her bicycle to clean up in the downtown area and returned with her trash.

Allison and Royce Nelson took on the cemetery area and despite his recent hip replacement surgery and using a cane, dragged an old boat hull out of the marsh with their golf cart He hauled it downtown to the Marina. The Nelsons plan to remove more hulls in the future. They win the prize for biggest object retrieved. Not wanting to be left out, members of the Woman’s and Lion’s clubs, and the Episcopal Church congregation participated in the event.

Norman Hodge, who works for the city’s Public WorksD epartment, did his part by collecting full bags, offering the use of the city’s bottle picker-upper to one of the volunteer’s working in the marsh and occasionally checking up on her to ensure she had not gotten stuck in the muck. Chuck Asbury, who works in the City Marina helped sort and count trash. They separated out the recyclable objects from the items that must go to the land fill.

Clam cover nets continue to be an issue around the Dog Island area and plans are being made to go back to with a bird dog boat and collect that cumbersome debris in the near future because there was simply too much to safely bring back to shore at one time.

Perhaps the funniest sight of the day was when Sherman James, the city’s local “Clam Cop” from the Department of Agriculture collected about 24 cover nets, brought them back to shore and put them into the Dumpster. Clam farmer Ricky Cook, who had gone out with two of his children to pick up trash, promptly retrieved them, declared them to be perfectly sound, rolled them up and took them to re-use on his lease.

Collectibles from the cleanup
101 plastic bags
353 plastic bottles
519 glass bottles (70 percent from Whiddon Avenue)
415 cans (50 percent from Whiddon Avenue)
165 food wrappers/containers
151 cups, plates, plastic utensils
25 buoys/floats
47 fishing nets
42 oil and lube bottles
20 cigarette lighters (35 percent from Whiddon Avenue)
66 building materials (60 percent from Whiddon Avenue)
Other items retrieved included balloons, caps and lids, clothing and shoes, straws & stirrers, toys, bait containers, bleach bottles, fishing apparatus, rope, strapping bands, cigarette butts  and packages, batteries, car parts and tires, a foam seat, a bike carrier and dust pans.

It can be concluded from the data that recycling is having a positive impact on the volume of items being found, but the hot bed of irresponsible behavior is between the school and the convenience store and that area needs to be addressed.