Volunteers help clean the coast

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By Pam Darty


Last Saturday, International Coastal Clean-up Day, brought many volunteers, boats and bags to Cedar Key and the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge.  Organizers of the event, Sue Colson and Leslie Sturmer, set-up and staffed the registration, counting stations and supply tents for all scrambling to gear-up and hit the water.

Chiefland High School Science Department teachers Lita Weingardt and Kelly Varnes brought a bus load of eager students who gave up their Saturday morning for the betterment of wildlife and water quality.  Local volunteers jumped into boats that transported them to the Refuge islands that harbor debris like empty plastic containers that blow out of boats, beer cans and bottles, plastic, styrofoam and netting.  After all the trash was off-loaded, volunteer counters separated all of it and documented each piece.  

Volunteers were treated to hot dogs, lemonade and a t-shirt after they hiked shorelines and pulled garbage that could potentially harm the wide variety of birds and other wildlife in the area.  Each year there is less debris found on the islands.  It’s hoped that this is a trend in stewardship of the Gulf and its rich resources.

Andrew Gude, manager of the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, was so impressed and appreciative of the organizers, boat captains and volunteers that showed for the clean-up that helps maintain the health of Refuge islands. “We are so grateful to those who answered Sue Colson’s call to rally for such a significant cause!”