Saturday, Sept. 17, was not a good day for trash. It was a great day for the San Lorenzo River and for the Monterey Bay.
The 30th Annual SLV River & Road Clean Up and the 32nd Annual Coastal Cleanup were big successes, according to event organizers.
The coordinated events scoured beaches and shores for fresh water tributaries and the bay into which they flow.
In the San Lorenzo Valley, with child volunteers outnumbering adults for the first time, more than two tons of trash was collected by nearly 150 volunteers.
Along Santa Cruz County and Monterey beaches, more than 3,000 volunteers college 10.5 tons of trash before it could be washed into the Bay, including more than 12,500 cigaret butts.
Nancy Macy of the Valley Women’s Club, founder and organizer of the river- and creek-based cleanup, said “More family groups and over 30 Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts (including Troop 604, and Pack 654 in Felton and Pack 623 in Boulder Creek) made the difference.”
“This showed in the weight and types of materials, like 12 zip-lock bags packed with cigarette butts and fewer large items brought in to the sign-in/weigh-in stations,” she said.  Mountains of junk were accumulated along roadsides for pickup by volunteers and by the County Public Works and SLV Water District truck drivers.
She reported that a total of 146 volunteers, ranging in age from pre-school to 90-plus, participated in the cleanup effort. The event has been organized by The Valley Women’s Club since 1986, and the partnership with Save Our Shores began eight years ago.
More than two tons –4,200 pounds of trash – plus over 1,000 pounds of recyclable materials were retrieved, Macy said.
A 30th anniversary celebration also took place at Felton’s Covered Bridge Park, with fresh popcorn and relay races.
Save Our Shores’ 32nd Annual Coastal Cleanup also reported big results, and included many volunteers from the San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley.
In just three hours, 3,148 volunteers (over 380 student participants) at 75 cleanup sites between Waddell Creek Beach in Northern Santa Cruz County and Big Sur in Monterey County prevented 10.5 tons or 20,955 pounds of trash from entering the Pacific Ocean.
In Santa Cruz County, 2,092 volunteers removed 8,403 pounds of waste. In Monterey County, 1,056 volunteers removed 12,552 pounds of waste.
“It’s a great day for coastal cleanup, thousands came out,” said Save Our Shores Executive Director Katherine O’Dea. “We thank everyone for all they do to keep our ocean paradise clean and beautiful. It was great engaging with the community! It was also wonderful to see so many kids join with their parents, learning how to care for the beach. Everyone was smiling and having fun. I had a great time!”
The number one item removed from the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary? Cigarette butts. Volunteers collected more than 3,300 cigarette butts alone at Cowell and Main Beach in Santa Cruz County. Preliminary results from Save Our Shores Annual Coastal Cleanup reports more than 12,500 cigarette butts.
Another surprising item? Mylar balloons. At the Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge, Site Captain and Sanctuary Steward Karen Gunby told Save Our Shores that “I’ve never seen this many mylar balloons at any cleanup.” Many were left over from Valentine’s Day.
Standout cleanup sites include the Pajaro River, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Reserve, and Sand City Beach. Together, these three sites exceeded 10,000 pounds of trash due in part to illegal dumping.
Debris included: A toilet tank, mattresses, a luggage scale, crab pots, shopping carts, construction cement and materials, truck wheels and tires, smoking pipes, vibrators, carpet, irrigation drains, refrigerators, antique glass bottles, bullet shells, the hood of a car, car doors, and a car engine, pitch forks, and lawn mowers.

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