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Hundreds Take Part in Coastal Cleanup Day

Environment: Volunteers scour local beaches and waterways for litter. Carburetors, pantyhose and a lobster trap are part of the haul.


VENTURA — She was expecting the cigarette butts. But it was the pair of pantyhose that threw off volunteer Jean Nussman as she scoured Seaward Beach for trash as part of Saturday's California Coastal Cleanup Day.

"Someone must have had a party," joked the 70-year-old Ventura resident, her face moist with sweat as she spent the morning walking and bending to pick up piece after piece of garbage littered in the sand.

Nussman was among 1,200 Ventura County residents who took to local beaches and inland waterways Saturday morning, removing nearly 9,000 pounds of trash and 4,000 pounds of recyclables from 21 sites in the county, event co-coordinator John Brand said.

Volunteer crews also tidied up Ventura Harbor--removing a five-gallon jug of used motor oil among other things. Divers cleaned up the underwater environment off county beaches, where they found a lobster trap, cooking pot and a barbecue.

About 50,000 people across California were expected to take part in the cleanup.

From 9 a.m. to noon, volunteers toting blue and green plastic bags--the former for trash and the latter for recyclables--picked up countless discarded cigarettes, pieces of plastic, dead animals and foam cups, all the while taking inventory of their discoveries.

"We already found 46 cigarette butts and we've only been here 10 minutes," said 13-year-old Pooja Dhir of Simi Valley. She and two giggling classmates from Hillside Middle School came to Seaward Beach to do their part--and to get extra credit for their oceanography class.

"It makes me really mad," added 13-year-old Navneet Khanguru. "How hard is it to throw it in the trash can? I mean, come on, they're right there," she said, pointing to the row of trash barrels on the beach.

In Newbury Park, about 50 volunteers braved 100-degree temperatures to help clear Arroyo Conejo Creek.

Kate Thomas, a co-coordinator for the countywide event, said volunteers in Newbury Park collected about 400 pounds of trash and 60 pounds of recyclables in three hours. That included pairs of boxer shorts, shopping carts, car batteries and a tire, she said.

A carburetor was found in the San Jon Barranca at San Buenaventura State Beach by a group from Kids' Arts, a Ventura-based nonprofit organization that offers free art classes for disadvantaged kids.

Jenifer Grimes, co-administrator of the program, said she tries to integrate lessons about ecology into arts education. It appeared to have worked on her young charges Saturday.

Onofre Banderos, 10, of Oxnard said he didn't mind slogging through the swamp-like area to retrieve the slimy debris. "I don't want the water to be all messy," he said.

And it's fun to know you are making a difference--however small, added Marissa Perez, 10, also of Oxnard.

"I found a piece of foam and picked it up because the sea gulls might choke on it," she said.

Ventura residents Lisa and Mark Beck came to the beach Saturday morning to celebrate their five-year wedding anniversary and decided to lend a hand to the cleanup.

"We come down to the beach all the time, so we thought this would be a nice way to give back," Lisa Beck said.

Simi Valley resident Chris Wilds, who was picnicking at the beach, appreciated the day's efforts.

"I wish everyone would just pick up their own so this isn't necessary," she said.

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