Volunteers tackle trash on Silver Strand

EPA trying to find source of trash

CORONADO, Calif. - For more than 50 volunteers, both Navy and civilian, the mission was simple -- pick up and dispose of anything on the beach of the Silver Strand Training Complex that didn't belong.

"I was surprised; I had an enormous bag of trash," said Navy volunteer Diane Porter.

The miles-long stretch of sand is for government use only.

"We have almost two miles of beach here that we train on at least on almost every week," said Cmdr. Chris Nelson with Beach Master Unit 1.

The trick is to balance training with concerns for wildlife, specifically the snowy plover and least tern, two federally endangered birds that like to nest in the area.

"They get tangled in the debris and get infections, which I've seen, and ingest some of the trash which can kill them," said Tiffany Shepherd, wildlife biologist with Naval Base Coronado.

Between small pieces of plastic and Styrofoam, to buried steel cables, all were collected and put into a 7-ton truck for proper disposal.

This kind of cleanup has been done for years, but for the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency had volunteers write down information on what they found to possibly determine where it came from.

"Whether it's a brand name or came from a country other than ours, we want to be able to trace it back to the source," said Kathlene Weiler with the EPA.

Nesting season begins in March.

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