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Refuge Has Spectacular Coastal Cleanup!


September 21, 2000


Tom MacKenzie, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (404) 679-7291

Robin Will (850) 925-6121

Over 230 eager volunteers plunged into the marshes of the St. Marks
National Wildlife Refuge in St. Marks, Florida, and brought in over 2,000 pounds of trash last Saturday, September 16, for the 14th annual International Coastal Cleanup Day.

"This was our best turnout ever," said Refuge Ranger Robin Will. "The weather was great and we had a grant from the Public Lands Day program to purchase t-shirts and lunch for the participants."

Another attraction was the addition of several educational exhibits about coastal resources for the volunteers. Florida State University's
Marine Lab had their portable touch tanks and microscopes set up from their popular Saturday-at-the-Sea programs, along with Ms. Jamie Hayes from the Office of Protected Species with her manatee activities and fishing handouts. Wakulla Extension's Geoff Brown and his Master Wildlife Conservationists had tables set up in the water garden they built behind the Education Cabin to explain about the new Florida Yards and Neighborhoods program and the Florida Dept. Of Environmental Protection had a wonderful interactive stormwater "pinball" machine set up. Besides the Public Lands Day program, the other sponsors of the refuge's coastal cleanup and awareness day included: Center for Marine Conservation, Publix Supermarkets, Big Lots, St. Marks Refuge Association, Brita Water Filter Systems, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Each year, Florida leads the International Cleanup in number of volunteers (over 37,000 in 1999) and the number of miles of coast cleaned (1871 miles). Florida volunteers collected over 753,000 pounds of trash last year, with cigarette butts as the number one item found. While marine debris can be found in all of the world's oceans, the problem does not necessarily start there. Close to 80 percent of the debris found on beaches and in marshes is washed, blown, or dumped from shore. In 1999, the International Coastal Cleanup showed that almost 59 percent of the debris cleaned up was from land sources while less than 8 percent of the debris came from ocean/inland waterway sources. Another horrible statistic from the cleanup is the number of entangled animals found. This year, 284 animals were entangled in marine debris in the United States, 134 more than were found last year. Floating bags, fishing line, strapping bands, and plastic items trap and drown sea turtles, seals, whales, and birds each year. Thankfully, no entangled animals were discovered during the refuge cleanup.

Some of the more unique items found on the refuge cleanup were an old washing machine, a truck tailgate, many assorted shoes (no pairs),
underwear, medicine vials, an ironing board, eye glasses, and tires.

The St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is thankful for great support
from the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Chiles High School, Roots and Shoots homeschool, Riversprings Middle School, and the other wonderful volunteers that made Coastal Cleanup and Awareness Day 2000 a terrific Public Lands Day Event!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management offices, and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife
habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to State fish and wildlife agencies.

Atlanta, GA 30345

Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

2000 News Releases

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