It was a double header on Saturday for cleanups across Flagler County as volunteers headed to both parks and inland waterways in Palm Coast and beachside to Flagler Beach to help spruce up the community.
It’s become a routine for volunteers across Flagler County who make it a monthly mission to help clean up Flagler Beach and the surrounding community. For the Fabulous Females of Palm Coast it was their second month in a row lending a hand and the gals rewarded themselves with breakfast and view at the Funky Pelican after dropping off their trash at pier receptacles.
“I live in Ormond by the Sea but I come to Flagler quite a bit because I like the pace and the atmosphere,” said Fabulous Female Sandy Leung. “We just started getting involved with the cleaning of the beach because I think it’s really important to keep it safe, clean and beautiful.”
They were joined by members of the JROTC from Flagler Palm Coast High School whose monthly commitment the Flagler Beach All-Stars rely on, along with others including the FPC Bulldogs 4H and FPC Bulldogs Robotics teams, Girl Scouts, and the Flagler County SWAT team.
Battling against cigarettes, vaping and the like, Students Working Against Tobacco team member Carolyn Sterger has made it a personal mission to clean up the cigarette butts from the beach while raising awareness.
“Being at the beach today and seeing a bunch of cigarettes on the floor is really sad because it gets to the beach and kills a bunch of marine life,” said the Flagler Palm Coast High School junior. “It’s really important to get the word out there about how bad tobacco is and how much it’s killing, and not to start young.”
Flagler Beach Mayor Suzie Johnston says the city appreciates the help of volunteers, especially youth, as they build a culture of environmental awareness, while hosting the cleanup each first Saturday of the month through the All-Stars.
“I think that there’s enough trash out here that it doesn’t help alleviate any city people (labor) or taxes because the trash keeps coming,” said Johnston. “It’s very important that the kids come out because it’s instilling the values to keep picking up trash instead of walking by it, to pick it up. It also promotes community and fellowship.”
Across the county, it was the City of Palm Coast’s 14th annual Intracoastal Waterway Cleanup, and Dylan Long set out to tackle the trash at Waterfront Park on Colbert Lane.
“I find the environment very important. It’s also just nice to have pretty parks that are not full of trash,” he said, appreciating the forward thinking environmental approach taken by the City of Palm Coast to preserve the natural beauty of the community for the future.
“I drive an electric vehicle, for example,” he said. “Definitely clean up trash, and just a lot of green programs that encourage innovation and other sustainable technologies.”
Walking the trails early, Nathan Cross was joined by Lane Ashby, now in his fourth year participating. The team only found a single piece of litter each, and Cross was surprised.
“We walked down these trails, but most people who use trails enjoy recreation so they’re not going to be the folks that are here throwing trash into the environment,” said Cross. “We wanted to fulfill our role, but at the same time it’s encouraging to see there’s not a lot of trash out here.”
The pair left to clean up the roadways deemed in need of assistance.
“We’re going to go down to the road where people are riding by in cars and it’s easy for them to sling trash out the window, and clean that area up,” he said.
The city announced 252 volunteers helped remove 1,600 pounds of trash and debris throughout the morning’s cleanup.
The Super September Cleanups culminate with the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup on September 18, 2021 from 8 am to 11 am. Organized by the Friends of A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway in partnership with community stakeholders in Flagler and St. Johns counties, volunteers can join the 72-mile cleanup effort by visiting https://scenica1a.org/event/international-coastal-cleanup-2021/.