The ECOSLO Coast Clean Up Day mobilized thousands of Central Coast residents along 30 sites Sept. 16 joining folks around the world and across the sea in getting garbage off their own beaches.
Pirate’s Cove, recently in the news as a much-neglected SLO County Park that failed to garner any additional funds at a Sept. 5 County Board of Supervisors meeting was a good poster child site for the clean up effort. There, volunteer “Site Capt.” Gene Quayle estimated that they took about 1,000 pounds of trash out of the trails and parking lot with around 50 volunteers.
There’s no regular trash pick up there but they did fill two dumpsters, almost evenly split between plastic and glass recyclables and plain old garbage.
Interesting artifacts of the day included a rusted out old telescope, from the cliffs overlooking a nude beach no less…and an entire mangled shopping cart.
Pismo Beach City Councilman Erik Howell, also serving as a Coastal Commissioner but working for the morning as a volunteer said the site is also known as an excellent stargazing and whale-watching venue.
Volunteers signed waivers and were instructed before the cleanup, “no dead animals and no syringes.” A dead buck and a seal were found and left in place, although other biohazards included condoms, their wrappers, and sodden cigarette butts.
Other miscellaneous items found on the ground – under graffiti on a rock outcropping that’s also a sacred site for local Chumash – included burst shotgun shells, AAA batteries, thousands of broken glass fragments, bottle caps and toilet paper.
That was all after the dozens of volunteers had combed the area. Long time residents and visitors to the Cove blamed the widespread trash on a burst of tourist promotion of the site after it was taken over by County Parks, mixed with a complete lack of onsite trash or restroom facilities.
The wealth of recyclables in particular some believed had to do with open container laws; that is visitors not wanting to get caught with alcohol empties in the backseat.
That still doesn’t account for the fact that within minutes of Quayle packing it in for the day, an entire unused roll of toilet paper blew across the dirt parking lot and a clear plastic bag full of refuse from a Subway sandwich shop sat next to where a minivan had been a minute before.
“We really need one of these every month,” Quayle said.
-Story and Photos by Camas Frank