by Janet Koed
California Coastal Cleanup Day officially started in 1985. Since 2013, Gaviota Coast Conservancy has signed up to run the show at Refugio State Beach which is an idyllic setting typically void of a lot of trash. One year, my friend and I set off up the bike path, thinking nobody would be covering that area. We struck the jackpot. There was a large plastic bin, about 4’x 4’ full of junk as the path dips down to a cove just east of the State Park. We didn’t get to weigh in because we couldn’t move the monster mess. However, we did alert the rangers at the kiosk and they assured us it would soon be gone. That was rewarding.
This year, I thought there would be more people than our usual crowd of about 15 because I got a postcard in the mail from State Assembly member Steve Bennet’s office announcing that he would be there. So, I went thinking there wouldn’t be enough trash for the increased attendance of folks wanting to help. I arrived on the early side, about 9:00am and already the troops were flocking in. Our GCC Treasurer, Richard Hunt, was frantically signing people in and handing out collection bags. Guner and Heidi Tautrim were directing other people at their table representing Gaviota Givings. They recruited many kids who showed up. Steve Bennet began to address the crowd as I snuck in behind him to unfurl the Gaviota Coast Conservancy banner.
In no time, we ran out of collection bags and park maintenance came to the rescue. There were about 80 people there that day! I was thinking I should have planted additional trash on the beach early that morning. Law enforcement came to see what was going on (and to thank us for our work). One group appeared with several heavy bags of folderol. They had been up on the frontage road where people seem to be less concerned about discarding their rubbish. Mark Wilkinson of SB Trails Council took a group off to scavenge at Tajiguas.
At the end of the cleanup day, the Tautrims weighed in almost 500 pounds and Mark Wilkinson’s group tallied 326 pounds of smelly gunk to be hauled away. Who would have thought scenic Refugio would be so littered. What wasn’t on the beach would have ended up in the water eventually. We proudly protected Gaviota on this day.
Thank you all who participated! Thank you to Explore Ecology
folks who organized up and down the Santa Barbara coast.