Basstendorff Beach Cleanup

John McAlister and Iona Speidel pick up trash at the July 5, Bastendorff Beach cleanup. 

COOS BAY — As the smoke from the Fourth’s fireworks settled at Bastendorff Beach, a mess of cans, bottles and firecracker carcasses were left behind, luckily the Surfrider Foundation was quick to act with its annual beach cleanup July 5.

Coos Bay Surfrider Foundation holds many beach cleanups throughout the year, but the day after the Fourth of July they hold a community beach cleanup to combat the resulting garbage from the holiday. The group has been holding its July 5 cleanups for the past five years now.

“Everyone around here knows that Fourth of July is a big day for Bastendorff, so we’re really grateful for all the people who are coming out to help with the clean up and keep the beach beautiful for everyone,” Kelly Wolfe with Coos Bay Surfrider Foundation said.

The past few years, the Surfrider Foundation has actively reduced the amount of trash that gets left on the beach from the Fourth simply by placing a few garbage cans on the beach. Since the group started placing the cans they’ve cut down on a lot of the garbage that simply gets left on the ground.

“I dropped three trash barrels off last night, this is the third year we’ve done that. Every year they’ve been really full,” Christal Kralicek with Surfrider said.

Surfrider had over 50 volunteers come out to comb the beach. Local organizations like Star of Hope and The Coos Drop brought large groups out to help. The Bureau of Land Management also had a team of people out sweeping the beach for trash.

“It’s a really great thing that Surfrider has been doing for years. After people have fun out here on the Fourth they come out and help us clean up. It’s something that the BLM and the state parks wouldn’t be able to do on our own, so having these volunteers out here makes a huge difference,” Megan Harper with the BLM said.

Some of the volunteers who have participated in the July 5 cleanup previously said that there was less trash on the beach this year than in previous years. One potential reason for lighter trash load is Bastendorff’s recent switch to day-use only.

“We went to a day-use regulation about a month ago, so I think people knew that they couldn’t stay out late last night. It looks like people did a great job staying within those rules and picking things up,” Harper said.

Several families found a proper balance between work and play. Parents used the opportunity to teach children the value of keeping the beach clean while still having fun and playing around.

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“We have to keep the beaches clean. All of the trash, and debris, and plastics are horrendous for the wildlife. It’s great to see all these people picking up the trash and keeping it clean,” volunteer Becky Phillips said.

One young girl, Iona Speidel, said that she enjoys the beach cleanup because it helps the animals.

A group of beach cleanup volunteers sift through the remains of a campfire picking out any trash they might find. 

“I like it because it keeps the animals from going extinct,” Speidel said.  

Surfrider promotes clean beach going practices, reminding people that they should try to pack out any trash that they bring to the beach.

“Even if people pack out what they pack in it would really reduce the amount of trash if they also just picked up one more piece of trash that they didn’t bring to help us preserve our beautiful beaches,” Kralicek said.

Most of the garbage found on the beach is firework related, but another big thing that volunteers look out for are nails.

“We find broken glass, and cigarette butts are pretty common ... we find nails from wooden pallets that people we’re burning up,” Wolfe said.

One volunteer even brought a large magnet to drag through the remains of camp fires to collect nails.

“This is where I take my family. We spend most of our time out of work at the beach. It’s critical that we take care of this natural playground,” Wolfe said.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.