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Volunteers collect 500 pounds of trash at Saturday’s Coastal Cleanup

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Posted: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:06 am, Tue Sep 18, 2012.

Soggy mattresses, about 20 expensive wine bottles and a piece of spray-painted artwork on plywood were some of the strange things volunteers uncovered this Saturday while cleaning Lodi Lake and the Mokelumne River.

About 250 people participated in Lodi's 10th annual Coastal Cleanup, hauling more than 500 pounds of trash out of the water and the surrounding park area.

Even though there were about 100 fewer volunteers than in 2011, they collected 150 pounds more trash, said Kathy Grant, the city's watershed education coordinator.

Volunteers at the event were split into teams of 10 to 12 people and assigned a section of the park to clean. Once the volunteers gathered the trash, the teams sorted and recorded each item to pass on the information to the Ocean Conservancy's international database.

This year, Grant said she had more requests than ever for families to stay together in groups.

"It was just a lot of energy. It was a lot of families — grandpas, dads, moms with strollers," she said.

Employees from Starbucks were team leaders and guided some of the groups to different areas to collect trash. Grant said she has started a partnership with the local store on Ham Lane, and the employees come to volunteer throughout the year.

Grant plans a trip every year in November to take local kids to San Francisco Bay and discuss how garbage in Lodi affects the ocean. In addition to going on the trip, the Starbucks employees will also help with a program at Heritage Elementary School where the students clean the gutters after school to prevent trash from entering the storm drain and eventually the river, Grant said.

One of the main goals of the cleanup is to inform the public of studies that show 80 percent of the trash in Pacific Ocean garbage patches come from inland, Grant said.

About 75 Lodi High students showed up at the cleanup. Their teachers plan to discuss the importance of preserving the river.

"Just for that connection to happen is very valuable," Grant said.

The event also included On-Site Recycling, a waste recycling company, collecting more than 600 pounds of printers, computers and other electronic trash.

The No. 1 item every year that volunteers collect is cigarette butts, and this time people turned in full cups of them, Grant said. The dozens of wine bottles were a surprise because they were all in one area and were expensive wines. The amount of drug paraphernalia was also down this year, Grant said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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