MANATEE — Saturday hundreds of volunteers will fan out across Manatee County to collect trash from highways, roads and shores.
More are still needed, organizers say.
Last year, as part of a worldwide cleanup day, more than 1,100 volunteers locally and more than 500,000 worldwide were involved.
Keep Manatee Beautiful has set its cleanup day for 9 a.m. -noon Saturday and is seeking volunteers.
Last year, more than 22,117 pounds of trash were removed from 131 miles of county highways, roads and shores, according to Ingrid McClellan, executive director of Keep Manatee Beautiful.
“The Florida Coastal Cleanup in Manatee County is a part of the 25th annual International Coastal Cleanup, the world’s largest volunteer effort to help protect our ocean, lakes and rivers,” said McClellan. “Since the cleanup began, over 7.8 million volunteers have removed over 135 million pounds of trash from our shoreline.”
They keep track of every piece of trash they find, she said. The Ocean Conservancy uses the information to produce an annual country-by-country, state-by-state index of the problem of marine debris.
There will be check-in centers from Manatee’s Gulf of Mexico beaches to Bradenton and East Manatee.
The Old Braden River Historical Society, Inc., plans to again be participants with its headquarters at Jiggs Landing preserve along the river, said Bill Halstead, vice president and chairman of the board of directors of the nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the ecological and historical treasures of the Braden River.
“There are good reasons to do this,” explained Halstead, who said his group will be registering volunteers from 8:30 - 9 a.m.
“The benefit of cleaning up is simply to improve the way the river looks, it looks trashy with debris floating in it,” he said. “So much of the trash, cans of insect repellent, paint cans with chemicals in it, that stuff can be bad for the environment.”
He said his group would be cleaning the upper section of the Braden River from a dam near where the river meets State Road 70 to the restaurant at Linger Lodge.
Although he never knows how many might turn up, in past years as many as 40 have joined forces to clean the river, Halstead said.
“It’s completely done in boats because there’s very little access to the river from the shoreline because of private property,” he added. “Usually, we have some motorized boats, this time we have two big pontoon boats, which are also there to pick up bags of litter from folks in canoes and kayaks; they fill up pretty quick.”
Ordinarily, the group is able to provide volunteers with free canoes and kayaks, but this year its supplier had a schedule conflict so Halstead is asking those who come to bring as many boats as they can.
Other items he suggested people bring included mosquito repellent, gloves, sunscreen, a hat and some type of water shoe.
“We provide trash bags, water and juice,” he said. “We have some wrappers used to pick up litter, and everybody gets a free T-shirt.”
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.