Jessica Cejnar / Wednesday, Oct. 14 @ 2:41 p.m.

COVID-19 Brings Changes to Annual Coastal Cleanup; Volunteers To Work In Shifts At Assigned Locations This Year

Del Norte County students took part in the annual coastal cleanup last year. Photo courtesy of the Smith River Alliance.

The Smith River Alliance is changing the way it orchestrates the annual cleanup of the Del Norte County coast and Smith River National Recreation Area due to COVID-19.

Volunteers will sign up for shifts and be assigned a location, according to an organization news release:

In this new world of COVID-19, the Smith River Alliance is offering up a new way to take part in cleaning our community. For starters, cleanup efforts will extend beyond the coast and into the Smith River National Recreation Area, because all waterways eventually lead to the ocean.

“Given the current circumstances, we decided gathering in a large group and organizing as we have in the past just wasn’t safe for our volunteers or organizers. Instead, we want to make sure that folks are able to get out in a way that is conducive to their health and their schedules” said cleanup organizer Tara Dettmar.

Here’s what to expect:
Saturday, October 17th will see efforts focused in the coastal zone. Individuals and “quaran-teams” interested in cleaning up coastal areas should contact the Smith River Alliance to reserve a time slot (see contact information below). Volunteers will sign up for a shift and a location will be assigned based on time and ability. Details can be taken care of with limited to no contact, depending on preference. In instances of in-person meet ups (such as picking up supplies) all covid-19 safety procedures- masks, distancing, sanitization- will be strictly observed.

For those who would like to focus on cleaning up garbage before it gets to the coast, there will be opportunities to participate in cleanups around the National Recreation Area from now until the rain starts and will be scheduled as volunteers become available. For more details or to reserve a spot, call Tara Dettmar at (904) 591-0901, email or send a Facebook or Instagram message to the Smith River Alliance.

This year offers a unique opportunity to do more than just clean up. It’s an opportunity to learn what a watershed is and how it works, how what we do throughout the county affects our coast.

“I would encourage people to think about how quickly the Smith River rises and falls in the rainy season and how trash travels. It’s not stationary and that will help people understand the impact they can have no matter where they live” said Dettmar.

Many thanks to the organizers and lead funders for the 2020 Del Norte and Adjacent Tribal Lands Cleanup efforts!


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