Volunteers gather, catalog trash in Delmarva coast cleanup

September 18, 1994|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,Ocean City Bureau of The Sun

OCEAN CITY -- "That's natural; we're allowed to leave it," said Suzy Taylor as her husband, Steve, picked up a horseshoe crab shell lying beside a car.

"It's not natural in the street," he answered, dropping it into the plastic bag he was carrying.

The Taylors were two of hundreds of volunteers who came out yesterday for the Delmarva Coastal Cleanup. At 62 locations around the peninsula -- 53 in Delaware, seven in Maryland and two in Virginia -- volunteers donned plastic gloves, carried trash bags and documented their trash pick-ups.

With help from environmental groups, youth organizations and people who just wanted to help, trash was collected and logged in from Terrapin Park on Kent Island, around the peninsula, in Delaware and down to Assateague and Kiptopeke State Park in Virginia.

The Taylors' experience was typical, if previous years are any measure. They decided not to pick up cigarette butts -- "too many of them," Mr. Taylor said -- but gathered everything else.

As he picked up trash and dropped it in his bag, Mr. Taylor called out what he'd found to his wife, who entered it on their data sheet.

"Plastic. Plastic. Plastic. Paper. Glass. Plastic. Styrofoam cup. Plastic. Plastic. Plastic." The list went on and on -- the Baltimore couple had picked up about 15 pounds in 45 minutes yesterday, they said, working the area between 54th and 55th streets in Ocean City.

They drove here from Baltimore Friday night, Mr. Taylor said. He'd heard of the cleanup through his employer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"We did it last year in Delaware," Mr. Taylor said as they worked. "We're trying to do things that are more environmentally friendly."

Not an unlikely stance for an environmental agency worker. But the cleanup was changing the views of others who, unlike the Taylors, had some initial doubts about its worth.

"I get upset with a lot of the environmentalists because they try to shove stuff down your throat," said Shelley Dunn of Perry Hall, who had come to Assateague to camp and help in the cleanup for the second year in a row.

"Last year, I thought, 'it's a lot of hooey,' you know what I mean? But after seeing what we picked up last year, small fish tangled up in the six-pack rings and netting like people use for firewood . . . I'm not politically correct, I take pride in that, but this makes you realize. . . ."

This year, she and her friends found mostly plastic, some silverware, bottle caps, soda cans and beer cans, she said.

The coastal cleanup has been an annual event in Delaware for eight years, and Delmarva Power has sponsored it for the last four. This year marked the first concerted effort on the whole peninsula, said Matt Likovich, a spokesman for the utility.

How much trash was picked up will take several days to determine, Mr. Likovich said.

At the 94th Street site in Ocean City, at least 20 large bags were piled up by 1 p.m., and Nancy Howard, a Maryland DNR spokeswoman, was still accepting bags and data sheets from volunteers. The pile also included two beach chairs, a box of wood (mostly from the dune fencing), a sizable group of asphalt chunks, and one kitchen knife.

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