by Casey Cruikshank
A few months ago when we all started working from home, I wasn’t sure what it would mean for Coastal Programs. As an event and volunteer coordinator, there were a lot of variables in the air. However, as the months go by I have been incredibly pleased not only by the wonderfully new and creative ideas coming from NEC staff but also by the volunteers’ ability to tackle projects. I’m starting to see a new life and energy behind Coastal Programs.
I believe this energy is coming from our new data collection strategies. Data collection gives volunteers an added purpose behind their debris removal. It opens the door for analysis of their hard collected data which then leads us closer to solutions. There are three Coastal Programs volunteers that I would like to highlight as exemplary leaders in debris removal and data collection.
Jason Slyter is an Adopt-A-Block volunteer who spends hours every month watching over Old Town Eureka. He is steady with his data collection and is always sure to report any waste patterns that he finds to the NEC. Over the last eight months he has removed over 300 pounds of trash from Old Town Eureka. Thank you for your hard work Jason!
Another volunteer that I would like to thank is Robin Hamlin. She is the leader of the Adopt-A-Beach group called Clam Beach Combers. She has seamlessly adopted the new NOAA Marine Debris Tracker app and has quickly become one of our top trackers. Over the last few months the Clam Beach Combers have removed and reported over eight thousand pieces of trash. Thank you to the Clam Beach Combers!
Last but certainly not least is Kim Tays. Kim has been watching over the Humboldt Coast for years and has knowledge and experience that she has kindly shared with me during my time as the Coastal Programs Coordinator. On top of being a friend and wonderful coastal advocate, Kim has become someone that I can call on to help tackle large debris on our beaches. Thank you for your hard work and dedication, Kim!
A few weeks ago Robin was enjoying a walk on Clam Beach when she came across a jet ski brought in with the tide. She sent a photo to me to report it and let me know that she had followed Adopt-A-Beach protocol and reported the debris to Humboldt County Parks Maintenance. Within a few hours she got back to me saying that the county had contacted the owner and gotten the machine off the beach before the tide came in. Without the watchful eye and quick action from Robin, the jet ski would have become an environmental nightmare.
A little while later Robin reported a large rope washed up on Little River State Beach. It was too large for her to carry alone so she immediately reported it, seeking help. I grabbed my keys and ran out the door with my partner, Bryon, to see what we could do. We walked right to the GPS location that Robin gave us and began the process of hauling the mooring line out of the reach of high tide.
The line was so heavy that we quickly exhausted ourselves and had to leave it above the high tide line to finish the removal on another day. We planned to return within a few days, however within that time I injured my ankle and was unable to walk.
That’s where Kim comes into the picture. Kim was already aware that the project was happening and quickly volunteered herself and her supportive partner, Stan, to step in and finish the project. With relief and gratitude I watched emails come in over the course of two days with photos of the hard work they were doing to get the giant line off the beach. The first day they brought a tarp out, cut the rope into three large pieces and dragged it a little closer to the nearest parking lot at Moonstone Beach.
The next day they returned and hauled the rest of the rope across Little River. Along they way they caught the attention of James, a valiant beach goer who jumped in to help them pull the rope up the steep incline into the parking lot. Kim and Stan later delivered the rope to me to be used for an art project that is in the works.
Without the efforts of all the volunteers involved, that rope could have easily returned back to the ocean to continue being a large entanglement risk to marine mammals. Being involved in and facilitating efforts like these make my job feel like the best job in the world. Every single step of the process was just as important as the other to get this debris removed from the beach. Examples of collective community action such as this, especially during such a strange time, gives me hope for what the future has to offer.