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Coastal cleanup moving inland

September 21, 2008|Evelyn Larrubia | Times Staff Writer

More than 12,000 volunteers gathered Saturday to pick up thousands of pounds of trash at dozens of lakes, beaches, creeks and storm drains throughout Los Angeles County as part of Coastal Cleanup Day.

Participants scooped up 181,000 pounds of garbage and recyclables -- from the ubiquitous cigarette butts to a Razor scooter and a home pregnancy test -- at numerous inland and coastal sites stretching from Echo Park to Zuma Beach. The annual event was coordinated by Heal the Bay, the Santa Monica-based nonprofit environmental group.

Matthew King, a spokesman for Heal the Bay, said the event has grown exponentially over the last 18 years, expanding its geographic reach of volunteers.

"We started out doing it along the coast," King said. "Each year we get more and more inland volunteers."

He said that's a good thing because most ocean pollution comes from runoff from inland storm drains, which during the rainy season carry litter to creeks and rivers.

By cleaning up the trash before it is swept to sea, Heal the Bay hopes to improve marine conditions.

Since it began its efforts in 1990, the organization said it has removed more than 1 million pounds of trash that could have wound up in the ocean.

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evelyn.larrubia@latimes.com

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