Bay beaches get help on state’s cleanup day

San Francisco Chronicle - - BAY AREA - By Jenna Lyons

Ev­ery year, about 2,000 vol­un­teers across San Fran­cisco pick up trash as a part of the statewide Coastal Cleanup Day. And just about ev­ery year, more than half of the vol­un­teers end up at Ocean Beach, where there hap­pens to be less trash to col­lect.

It was no dif­fer­ent Satur­day, when more than 1,000 peo­ple showed up to the pop­u­lar beach and the re­main­der was split among other west side lo­ca­tions and spots on the oft-for­got­ten east­ern side of the city.

Denise McKin­ney, se­nior di­rec­tor of ser­vice and vol­un­teer re­sources with the Golden Gate Na­tional Parks Con­ser­vancy, said the trend has been con­sis­tent for the past decade.

“The east side, the bay side, re­ally needs it more,” McKin­ney said from Ocean Beach Satur­day morn­ing. “Gen­er­ally what hap­pens is we get 75 per­cent of the vol­un­teers here on the west side, but 75 per­cent of the trash is picked up on the east side.”

There were 22 cleanup sites across the city, from west side sites like Lands End and Crissy Field main­tained by the Golden Gate Na­tional Recre­ation Area, to east side lo­ca­tions like Can­dle­stick Point and In­dia Basin Park un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the San Fran­cisco Recre­ation and Park Depart­ment.

At In­dia Basin Shore­line Park, San Fran­cisco Bay­keeper, a clean wa­ter ad­vo­cate

group, led about 50 vol­un­teers in the cleanup ef­fort.

“There’s a lot of trash in the bay that comes here,” Si­enna Courter, a Bay­keeper staff mem­ber, told vol­un­teers. “Our mis­sion is to pre­vent pol­lu­tion from hap­pen­ing in the bay.”

Courter stood on top of a pic­nic ta­ble shortly af­ter 9 a.m. as she greeted the crowd and warned them of the dan­ger trash can pose to the bay, nearby wildlife and to hu­mans who eat seafood from the bay. Vol­un­teers were tasked with pick­ing up ev­ery­thing but nee­dles and dead an­i­mals.

Bay­keeper had ex­pected only 30 peo­ple but got a boost in num­bers from the Sa­cred Heart Cathe­dral girls ten­nis team. Around 20 ju­nior var­sity and var­sity mem­bers showed up equipped with gloves and buck­ets as part of an an­nual team ser­vice project, said head coach Amy Kleck­ner.

“The mis­sion is en­ter to learn, learn to serve,” Kleck­ner said of the Catholic prepara­tory school.

Team mem­bers said they were glad to of­fer a help­ing hand, even if it was manda­tory.

“It’s nice to help with the en­vi­ron­ment and feel like you’re giv­ing back,” said So­phie Standen, a 17-year-old se­nior. “Es­pe­cially be­cause the sport is out­side.”

As vol­un­teers filled black bags with trash, they dropped them off at the front of the park to even­tu­ally end up in a huge dump­ster to be picked up by Re­col­ogy.

Bay­keep­ers staff mem­ber Eliet Hen­der­son said clean­ers usu­ally find small pieces of trash and plas­tic, but have run into some in­ter­est­ing relics in the past.

“Some­times peo­ple find crazy stuff. Some­body found an ex­er­cise bike some­one dumped. One year we found half a bowl­ing ball,” she said. “Weird stuff.”

But the pri­mary tar­get? Cig­a­rette butts.

Last year, San Fran­cisco vol­un­teers picked up about 30,000 dis­carded butts dur­ing the three-hour event, or­ga­niz­ers said.

At In­dia Basin, Emilio Siguenza started off by re­mov­ing small bits of plas­tic and old nap­kins with a light­weight pickup tool. Siguenza, 41, said he used to work in main­te­nance at Baker Beach for the Golden Gate Na­tional Recre­ation Area. But now he’s on his own time.

“I got paid to do this. It’s a lot bet­ter be­ing paid to do this,” he joked.

With a con­stant push for more east side vol­un­teers, In­dia Basin fared pretty well. Or­ga­niz­ers had about 50 peo­ple but said the park has re­ceived as few as 15 and as many as 60 vol­un­teers in the past.

“Ocean Beach def­i­nitely has a huge draw for peo­ple,” Courter said. “But it’s re­ally nice to be over in the east side.”

“The east side, the bay side, re­ally needs it more. Gen­er­ally what hap­pens is we get 75 per­cent of the vol­un­teers here on the west side, but 75 per­cent of the trash is picked up on the east side.” Denise McKin­ney, se­nior di­rec­tor of ser­vice and vol­un­teer re­sources, Golden Gate Na­tional Parks Con­ser­vancy

Photos by Paul Kuroda / Spe­cial to The Chron­i­cle

Six-year-old Scott Henry and Emilio Siguenza pick up trash at In­dia Basin Shore­line Park in San Fran­cisco dur­ing the statewide Coastal Cleanup Day.

Eric Hoover places a tire he found on the grow­ing pile of trash col­lected at In­dia Basin Shore­line Park.

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