SEPTEMBER 30, 2016


Scores of volunteers showed up bright and early last Saturday morning at Jim’s Pier on South Padre Island to participate in the city’s launching of a bayside beach cleanup. Susan Dalton, chairperson of the city committee Keep SPI Beautiful, conducted a safety briefing before sending people out on foot, in kayaks, and boats to pick up debris and litter along the bay side of the Island.
Iris Horton, a resident at Sunset Condominiums, complimented the maintenance crew at her complex but still collected two bags of trash. “Around my building, our staff does a really good job cleaning, but some of the stuff I picked up was pretty old trash.” she commented.
Committee members Julie Berman and Kat Lillie were on hand to assist Dalton, handling out garbage grabbers, trash bags, and bottled water to the hard-working volunteers. Berman remarked on her reasons for joining the committee. “I have a passion for cleaning up our water ways, especially the neglected Laguna Madre,” noting that most beach cleanups tend to take place on the Gulf side of the Island.
Dalton spoke about the challenges in tackling a bayside cleanup, unlike the beach cleanups, it’s just harder. We’re trying to get out there – most of us paddle board, kayak, or fish – so we just want o see more activity on the bayside as far as cleanups. We’re hoping to start doing this bi-annually. We want to see more of the watercraft community get out there and help us do this, because we all have a vested interest in making it better.”
Dalton continued, saying “The really nice thing is the Keep Texas Waterways Clean organization and HEB supply us with all the stuff we need – the pickers, trash bags, gloves, sunscreen, water – all that is donated to us by a grant from HEB to KTB and KTWC. All we have to do is submit our event and let them know when and where and they send us boxes and boxes of everything we need. We have plenty of supplies for our next cleanup, and we’ve got signage,” she said.
Since this was the first time the City has tried hosting a bayside cleanup there were a couple of hiccups along the way. “The challenge I had this year was getting the word out, but that’s okay, because this was first-year event, and we’re still trying to learn from our mistakes and make sure we do this right and make it a wonderful event that people look forward to, so we’ll build on what we started,” Dalton said.
Susan noted that Bridgestone Tires is recycling any tires they recover during their efforts, and other businesses have offered to help: Parrot Eyes offered to volunteers launch their boats for free during the cleanup, “The businesses understand that we’re doing this for the community, because it’s a win-win situation for everybody.”
Dalton pointed out, “When you actually look at what brings tourists to the Island, a lot of it is environmental now, particularly with Sea Turtle Inc., the Birding Center, and our dolphins and turtles – these are the things that bring us into volunteering and coming up with ways we can contribute and attract more revenue to the Island. It’s mutually beneficial for everybody.”
Sha also spoke about other actions her committee has achieved, “The monofilament recycling bins, that’s something we’ve done that we’re proud of. We just want to do more for the Island and the environment because it means something to every one of us.”
Area resident Rachel Franceshi, along with her niece Camille and Keep SPI Beautiful committee member Alex Brotzman, worked in the areas of Palm, Corral, Venus, and Campeche streets, retrieving a tire and collecting three bags of trash. Rachel commented, “We started right now at 8 a.m. – we know people fish in these areas, so that’s where we concentrated our efforts. We picked up a lot of cans and cigarette butts, plastic bottles, iron rebar, straws and plastic bottle caps,” with Camille piping up saying, “and fish skeletons!” eliciting laughs from the trio.

By Pamela Cody