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Sonoma County gearing up for 30th annual Coastal Cleanup Day

If this year is anything like last, more than 11,000 pounds of trash await volunteers heading out to Sonoma County beaches and streams on Saturday for the 30th annual Coastal Cleanup Day.

Hundreds of people commonly take part in the local pollution patrol - part of a statewide force 58,000 strong - though sign-ups for the Sonoma County event appear to be slightly behind where they usually are at this point, one organizer said.

More than 600 people participated in Sonoma County last year, collecting 11,162 pounds of refuse, 672 pounds of it recyclable, said Una Glass, executive director of Coastwalk California, which leads the local effort. Statewide, the 2013 cleanup netted 749,323 pounds of debris, including more than 75,000 pounds of recyclable materials, Glass said.

Coastal beaches and inland streams are rife with stuff left behind by humans or washed down from points upstream, all of it bound eventually for the Pacific if not intercepted. The yearly cleanup prevents its migration into the ocean, where garbage poses an extreme threat to marine wildlife.

Glass said she hoped a ban on plastic bags that recently went into effect in Sonoma County has an impact on what’s collected over the next few years.

“Plastic, and plastic bags, have an enormous impact on ocean pollution,” Glass said.

Cleanup sites located up and down the Sonoma Coast, as well as inland, present lots of different options for those interested in helping out, including most beaches between Bodega Bay and Jenner, as well as Steelhead and Sunset beaches on the Russian River in Forestville, and the Laguna de Santa Rosa off Occidental Road near Graton. Site captains were still needed Monday for at least two coastal beaches.

The Sonoma County Water Agency is hosting a cleanup of Santa Rosa Creek at Stony Point Road in west Santa Rosa, while Santa Rosa city staffers are organizing trash pickups in Spring and Matanzas creeks at Doyle Park on the east side of town.

Volunteers also are welcome to help clean out the Petaluma River, meeting up at 260-H North Water St. on Saturday morning.

All Coastal Cleanup Day operations run from 9 a.m. to noon. Participants are encouraged to bring their own buckets to avoid having to use disposable trash bags, as well as garden or work gloves and a reusable water bottle.

Chanslor Guest Ranch, 2660 North Highway 1 in Bodega Bay, is hosting a barbecue for volunteers from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., sponsored in part by Oliver’s Market.

More information is available at http://coastwalk.org/volunteer/coastal-cleanup-day/.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com.

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