BRADENTON— About 60 volunteers swarmed over the banks of Wares Creek from Manatee Avenue to the Ninth Avenue West Bridge on Saturday morning to pick up trash that washes down from upstream
They found the usual foam cups, cigarette butts, and glass beer and plastic water bottles entangled in the mangroves and sea grass along the side of the waterway.
But Jeff Newhall and his two children, Amber, 14, and Adam, 9, dragged ashore from their flat-bottom boat a couple of grocery store carts and three tires they found mired in the mud behind their home along the creek between 12th and 14th avenues west.
“This is the first time we found grocery carts,” said Newhall, who has been doing his part in the cleanup program for years with his children.
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“We get all the junk washed down from upstream,” he said. “It catches on the trees, builds up and slows down the water flow.
“That’s what causes the flooding,” Newhall said, referring to the problem hoped to be solved with a dredging project scheduled to start next year.
Wares Creek was one of 13 waterway sites across Manatee where hundreds of volunteers worked to make the environment better during the Ocean Conservancy’s 2009 International Coastal Cleanup.
The project is one of two annual cleanups organized by Keep Manatee Beautiful.
Keep Manatee Beautiful director Ingrid McClellan also asked almost 40 Adopt-A-Highway, Adopt-A-Road and Adopt-A-Shore groups to participate.
During last year’s cleanup, 1,195 volunteers picked up more than 22,300 pounds of trash from 138 miles of county area roads and shorelines.
“It’s disheartening that this amount of trash floats on our seas and piles up on our seashore,” McClellan said. “It is not only aesthetically a blemish, but a threat to our food supply, our tourism economy and the environment.”
The Wares Creek cleanup was organized this year by the Historic Wares Creek Neighborhood organization, as it has been for the past nine years.
“When we organized the neighborhood group we needed a cause,” said Patrick Roff, one of the founders who roasted wieners Saturday on the grill for the volunteers.
Roff said he had three Girl Scout troops and the Manatee High School Key Club volunteering again this year, along with several residents.
Helping out Saturday for the first time was Key Club member Shiloh Magann, 14, a freshman at Manatee High.
“I love the water and thought it would be a good thing to do,” Magann said.
Girl Scout leader Jodi Carter said she has been bringing the Scouts to the Wares Creek cleanup for 14 years and sees it as a chance for the girls to learn a few lessons.
“They see how easy it is to be wasteful,” Carter said, “and how it only takes a couple of seconds to throw the trash away properly.
“They also learn teamwork and safety.”
Another one of the neighborhood volunteers, Judy Karkhoff, who grew up in Bradenton and moved back to the Wares Creek community in 2005, said it was great to see the Girl Scouts and Key Club members involved.
“This is not only important because it helps the environment,” Karkhoff said, “But it also builds community.”