September 22, 2008

Beach Sweep Nets 2 Tons of Debris

By Patrick Lakamp

More than 500 volunteers picked up almost two tons of debris and trash Saturday in the Southtowns during the annual Great Lakes Beach Sweep.

At the same time, some 600 people helped Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper clean some 19 sites in Erie and Niagara counties as part of its Autumn Beach Sweep.

The efforts were part of the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup project.

The Great Lakes Beach Sweep, with its local headquarters at Woodlawn State Park in Hamburg, focused on Lake Erie beaches.

"The biggest problem is plastic water bottles," said Sharen Trembath, the Lake Erie coordinator for the Great Lakes Beach Sweep. "It makes no sense to me. If people realized it ended up in our drinking water, maybe they'd think twice about it."

Volunteers at the beaches also found thousands of cigar tips, she said.

The Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper volunteers found shopping carts, tires and a lot of mattresses, said Kerri Bentkowski, the organization's citizen action coordinator.

They also found clothing and alcohol bottles, she said.

"The sites were in better shape than in years before," Bentkowski said.

People are less likely to throw away trash near the water if they see the sites are in good shape, she said.

"The sites seem to be improving over time, so we're hopeful. We still found a lot of trash, but less than before. People are being more mindful."

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Originally published by NEWS STAFF REPORTER.

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