Rollerblades. A tiny green army man. A spark plug. Endless cigarette butts. These items and much more were discovered Saturday morning in Lodi Lake Park. Nearly 250 volunteers spent the morning in teams, picking up trash and sorting it out as part of the international Coastal Cleanup Day. Most were local students and representatives of high school environmental clubs.
Watershed Education Coordinator Kathy Grant said this opportunity is a chance for students to learn to be stewards of the land.
“They need to learn how to take care of something,” she said. “This is their world. This is our world.”
Volunteers towed buckets and garbage bags full of debris back from their respective sites and dumped it on tarps laid out near the boathouse. Gloved hands sifted through leaves, plastic bags, bottle caps and strange bits of plastic.
Each group was assigned a site. The garbage they find there was counted and tallied so Grant could keep track of what kind of trash was found in different places around the lake. On the nature trail, volunteers found many beer cans and plastic bottles. Closer to the picnic areas and the water’s edge, there were hundreds of cigarette butts.
One Tokay High student had an interesting find. Daniel Rushing, 17, found a pair of muddy in-line skates. Once they were dropped off on the tarp, three crawdads crawled out.
Cynthia Madrid, San Joaquin County’s coordinator for the Coastal Cleanup, said she’s seen many similar cases of animals making a home out of human garbage.
“It goes to show how, when an environment is eroded, it’s incredible how animals adapt,” she said.
More and more work on Coastal Cleanup Day and other efforts is extended to inland rivers and lakes, because so much marine debris starts in cities and on streets before running out to waterways through the sewers.
The students were pleased with the day’s work, especially during the free barbecue when the work was done.
“I think we did really well today,” said Rushing. “If we didn’t do this, no one else would. We have to take charge of our community.”
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.