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National Briefing / TEXAS

Pristine sands trashed by Ike

October 03, 2008|From Times Wire Reports

Padre Island National Seashore, the world's longest undeveloped barrier island, looks as if people have been using it as a dump for decades.

Tons of debris swept up by Hurricane Ike last month were carried by Gulf of Mexico currents hundreds of miles to this ordinarily pristine landscape north of the Mexican border.

Sections of roofs, refrigerators, loveseats, beds, TVs, hot tubs and holiday decorations litter the more than 60 miles of sand in the national park.

Wildlife workers worry the trash will harm birds and other animals, including endangered turtles that nest here in the spring. The park wants to clean up as much of the debris as possible before the Kemp's Ridley turtles return, said the park's maintenance chief, Larry Turk. A debris-clogged beach would make it hard for them to dig their nests. And birds might ingest plastic, thinking it was food.

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