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JAUNTS: Ventura County

A Shore Thing

Annual cleanup is time to get down and dirty at your favorite beach.


Before summer slips away completely, how about a day at the beach?

Forget the beach chair, though. And leave the People magazine at home. Do bring your work gloves and an appetite for a bizarre and rather yucky kind of treasure hunt.

Saturday is Coastal Cleanup Day, when volunteers will scour Ventura County's beaches along with thousands of other workers up and down the state's coastline.

From 9 a.m. to noon they'll stroll the shores, picking up trash, sorting it, documenting it, counting it and weighing it. This is the 14th year of the cleanup, and the results are truly nauseating.

Last year, more than 50,000 volunteers statewide combed the beaches and inland waterways bagging trash. In just three hours the haul was 700,000 pounds. In Ventura County, 1,100 volunteers carted off nearly 21,000 pounds of the stuff.

"The No. 1 item is cigarette butts," said Jessica Craven, who is coordinating the county event with Beth Sutherland. Last year's county effort netted about 7,000 butts.

"It's truly phenomenal and scary," Craven said. "People don't realize that the things on the beaches have washed down from the [storm] drainage system. They could come from Ojai, Camarillo or Moorpark."

Those with a penchant for trash-sifting probably won't be disappointed on this outing. Last year's California volunteers turned up some doozies: a jar containing two voodoo dolls and a photo of a man, a wooden coffin for a rat named Jack, pickled pigs' feet, a harbor seal skeleton, a dog's head, three vacuum cleaners, a Russian newspaper, Japanese suntan lotion, three parking meters and a gear shifter from a '54 Ford. Someone even stumbled on a complete set of bathroom fixtures--toilet, sink, shower, even tiles.

Sometimes the finds are truly puzzling. Two years ago at Ormond Beach, Craven, who cleans the beach one or two dozen times a year on her own, came across a crucifix with a note attached. It was a love note written in Spanish from a man to a woman. Generally, the trash is more mundane. After cigarette butts, the dirty dozen consists of foam plastic objects, plastic pieces, paper, food wrappers, glass, caps or lids, straws, cups, bottle caps, packaging material and beverage containers.

The California Coastal Commission organizes the statewide cleanup in conjunction with cities, counties and groups like the Ventura County Coalition for Coastal and Inland Waterways, which is coordinating the local effort.

They alarming statistics about the global trash problem: An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash are tossed in the world's oceans each year. The stuff kills about 100,000 marine mammals and 2 million seabirds that either eat the trash or get tangled in debris.

If you want to get involved, here's how it works:

Bring heavy gloves and wear sturdy closed-toe shoes and long pants. There are 15 spots in the county--including three on inland waterways--where captains will be stationed to coordinate the work. Between 8:30 and 9 a.m., check in with the captain who will hand out trash bags.

You'll get some safety tips ahead of time, such as what to do if you come across a hypodermic syringe or an injured animal. Volunteers will be divided into groups of three or four--a couple to pick up and separate the trash from the recyclables and one person to record it all on data cards.

The trashiest spots are likely to be near the mouths of the rivers, Sutherland said. The stuff is carried by streams that drain into rivers that lead to the ocean. "The cigarette butts are not left on the beach; they're thrown from cars and go into the storm drain," she said.

She, too, has come across the bizarre--what looks like a bowling trophy covered in barnacles, hence its name: Barnacle Bill.

These oddball treasures aren't limited to the beach or inland waterways. This is the third year that scuba divers at Channel Islands Harbor have scheduled their own underwater cleanup on Coastal Cleanup Day. Coordinated by Pacific Scuba Center, last year's plunge drew 67 divers who hauled out everything from fishing tackle to a sex toy.

This year, Pacific Scuba Center owners Jason and Lisa Lazar have a splashy event planned with underwater and shoreline cleanups, along with lunch, awards, T-shirts, a raffle and entertainment by an eight-piece band. Tickets are $10 for divers, $8 for landlubbers.

Those who volunteer at the 15 sites will get some freebies for their efforts. Longs Drug Store is donating sunscreen and drinking water, and workers will also get a coupon for a free Brita Water Filtration System. And a drawing will determine the winners of two field trips aboard the Channel Islands Marine Science Floating Laboratory.



Coastal Cleanup Day is Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, call (800) CLEANUP (253-2687). For information on Pacific Scuba Center's (3600 S. Harbor Blvd.) Channel Islands Harbor Underwater Cleanup, call 984-2566.

Cleanup locations:

* Ormond Beach: Meet at Southern California Edison Plant by Hueneme Road and Edison Road.

* Hueneme Beach Park: Meet south of the pier.

* Oxnard Shores: Meet at Mandalay Beach Road and Oceanaire, or Mandalay and 5th Street.

* McGrath State Beach: Meet in parking lot past kiosk.

* Ventura Harbor Cove: Meet at end of Spinnaker Drive.

* Seaward Beach: Meet at end of Seaward Avenue.

* San Buenaventura State Beach: Use San Pedro Street entrance and meet by snack shop.

* Santa Paula: Meet at Santa Clara River at south end of Palm Avenue (past fence and up to the right).

* Thousand Oaks: Call 449-2468 for information.

* Sycamore Cove: South of Mugu Rock off Pacific Coast Highway.

* Hollywood Beach: Meet at south end.

* Silver Strand Beach: Meet at north end.

* Moorpark: Meet in parking lot at Arroyo Vista Recreation Center.

* Emma Wood Group Camp: Meet at kiosk.

* Rincon Parkway: Exit Ventura Freeway at State Beaches; meet just north of Emma Wood Park entrance at beginning of day use zone.

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