Volunteers participate in annual beach cleanups across county

SAN DIEGO - Volunteers hit beaches across San Diego County on Saturday, picking up the trash left over from the Fourth of July festivities.

Starting at 8 a.m., volunteers with the Surfrider Foundation picked up garbage at the Ocean Beach Pier, Belmont Park in Mission Beach, Crystal Pier at Pacific Beach and the Oceanside Harbor beach.

In Ocean Beach, volunteers were not surprised to see marshmallows among the trash left behind in the morning after the annual marshmallow war, but what they did not expect to see was how little trash was actually left behind.

Volunteer Lori Jones told 10News, "I've come out before and the whole sidewalk has been littered. You couldn't even pick your feet up it was so slimy."

Even before the official Surfrider cleanup kicked off, a few beachgoers showed up bright and early, doing their part for the community.

Yessnia Marquina was one of them.

"You have to keep it clean," she said. "If the beaches aren't nice, you aren't going to attract people, so you have to keep it clean."

Last year, more than 450 volunteers removed 2,372 pounds of trash and 195 pounds of recycling from four beaches in only two hours, according to the foundation.

The trash included 764 plastic bags, 1,163 pieces of Styrofoam and 12,685 cigarette butts.

"We've seen a significant decrease in the amount trash collected at our annual 'Morning After Mess' since the drinking ban was put into effect in 2008, but there is still a lot of garbage left behind and we need volunteers to help," said Haley Haggerstone, who is with Surfrider.

Bags and gloves were provided, but volunteers were encouraged to bring their own reusable bag, bucket or gloves to cut down on single-use plastic waste. Participants under the age of 18 will need a parent or legal guardian to sign for them.

Prizes will be drawn at each location, including tickets to Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews Band, along with the grand prize of an Iron Cross surfboard from radio station 91X. The first 40 volunteers at each location will get a Surfrider Foundation trucker hat.

A separate cleanup was scheduled for 9 a.m. at the San Elijo Lagoon in the Cardiff-by-the-Sea section of Encinitas, led by The H2O Patrol.

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