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Volunteers are needed for the 29th annual California Coastal Cleanup on September 21

Volunteer divers will clear debris gathered at the bottom of the OC Dana Point Harbor on Saturday, as part of the California Coastal Cleanup Day. Pictured here are volunteers from last year’s event with collected items. Courtesy photo
Volunteer divers will clear debris gathered at the bottom of the OC Dana Point Harbor on Saturday, as part of the California Coastal Cleanup Day. Pictured here are volunteers from last year’s event with collected items. Courtesy photo

By Andrea Papagianis

The state’s largest one-day volunteer event is just around the corner and local agencies are reaching out to residents to take part in cleaning up the Dana Point Harbor and surrounding beaches and waterways.

This year’s California Coastal Cleanup Day, which invites volunteers to participate in a three hour sweeping of debris throughout the state, will take place on Saturday, September 21.

In 2012, more than 65,000 volunteered for cleanup efforts statewide and removed more than 700,000 pounds of trash from beaches and inland waterways, said Eben Schwartz, outreach manager for the California Coastal Commission.

The amount of trash collected was staggeringly lower than one year prior, Schwartz said, which had topped 1 million pounds in consecutive years past. Even with an inopportune timed heat wave that prompted a drop in volunteers, less trash was collected per person, he said, hopefully meaning there is less trash to be collected overall.

“I think what has happened over the years is Coastal Cleanup Day has moved well beyond a one day event,” Schwartz said. “The cleanup has helped create a constituency around trash policy and what we are doing about it.”

Schwartz pointed to local efforts to eliminate the use of Styrofoam and plastic bags as examples of residents and municipalities aiming to lessen trash. The city of Dana Point approved an ordinance banning the use of single-use plastic bags back in March 2012.

The ban is being implemented in two phases, the first of which went into effect in April on businesses with annual taxable sales exceeding $4 million—like Ralphs, Smart & Final, CVS and Chevron. Plastic-bags used for fresh produce, unprepared meat or fish, bulk foods, newspapers, dry-cleaning and animal waste are not included in the ban.

Additionally, restaurants and suppliers of take-out food are exempt. The full ban on plastic-bags for all other businesses is scheduled to be implemented on October 1.

With the refuse that remains, local agencies, businesses and nonprofits are sponsoring Coastal Cleanup Day efforts throughout Saturday morning.

“We have a great community that is always looking for ways to help us keep the Harbor and its waters clean,” said Brad Gross, director of the OC Dana Point Harbor. “On Coastal Cleanup Day we concentrate on those areas, and items of trash that are not easily seen, but make an incredible improvement to water quality.”

Cleaning Up the Harbor

Assorted items, like the skateboards pictured here, are recovered from the Harbor each year. Photo by Andrea Swayne
Assorted items, like the skateboards pictured here, are recovered from the Harbor each year. Photo by Andrea Swayne

The county is hosting a Harbor cigarette butt roundup from 9 a.m. to noon.

Volunteers are asked to meet in the grassy area just outside Dana West Marina, located at 24500 Dana Point Harbor Drive, and to bring their own bags, buckets and gloves to collect trash. Volunteers of all ages are welcome, but those under 18 years of age must have signed parental consent to participate.

For more information, call volunteer coordinator Penny Alia at 949.499.4499 or log on to

Cleanup efforts at the Harbor will also dip below the surface as volunteer divers will search the waterway for trash and lost items from 8 a.m. to noon. In past underwater cleanups, divers have recovered mobile phones, chairs, umbrellas, marine toilets, bicycles and a parking meter.

Participating divers must have current Open Water or equivalent dive certifications. For more information about volunteering, contact Kelly Rinderknecht with Dana West Marina at or 949.493.6222. Additional information about the underwater cleanup can be found at

The Ocean Institute is also holding an event for volunteers 4 years and older to rid the Marine Conservation Area behind the institute of trash. Volunteers will meet behind the Ocean Institute, located at 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive, before 9 a.m. to clean up the jetty and tide pools.

Participants are asked to reduce refuse by bringing their own bucket, gloves and reusable water bottles. For additional information about the Ocean Institute event, call 949.496.2274 ext. 314 or visit

Don’t Forget About Doheny

The city of Dana Point and California State Parks department are teaming up to clean up Doheny State Beach, located at 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, and the San Juan Creek from 9 a.m. to noon.

This year the two entities are following a zero-waste policy for the cleanup and are asking volunteers to bring buckets, old chip bags or recycled paper and plastic grocery bags to collect refuse. Needed supplies will be provided. Volunteers are asked to meet at the Lifeguard Headquarters before the start time.

After the cleanup, the city will provide volunteers with lunch. Volunteers of all ages are welcome. To find out more about the cleanup efforts at Doheny, contact Vicki Wiker with the state parks at 949.496.2704 or, and Lisa Zawaski with the city at 949.248.3584 or

Sweeping Up Salt Creek

OC Parks sponsors a beach and bluff cleanup event for Salt Creek Beach Park, 33333 S. Pacific Coast Highway. Volunteers ages 8 and older are asked to meet and sign in at the top of the access road, located in the public parking lot.

For more information or to confirm attendance, contact one of the one-site captains, park rangers Kevin Estrada or Molly Stallcup at 949.923.2282 and 949.232.2284 respectively. The rangers can also be contacted via email at or

Help a Neighbor Out

Cleanup events are taking place up and down the coast, with a few additional efforts taking place in bordering communities.

The Orange County Flood Control District is sponsoring a channel cleanup at Laguna Niguel Regional Park, at 28241 La Paz Road. Volunteers ages 8-13 years old require adult supervision. Those interested should contact Beatrice Masacchial at 714.955.0612 or, as volunteer space is limited.

A second cleanup event will also be held at the Laguna Niguel Regional Park. Volunteers are asked to confirm their participation with site captain Brad Barker at 949.923.2242 or by emailing For more information, visit .

The city of San Clemente is hosting a cleanup event for volunteers of all ages at the San Clemente Pier. Volunteers can sign in at a meeting location at 615 Avenida Victoria. To find out more about volunteering contact Mary Condrak at 949.361.8204 or email

On-site captains from the more than 800 cleanup locations statewide will compile information and submit it to the California Coastal Commission. Statistics pertaining to the amount of trash recovered will be published the same day as the cleanup.

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comments (1)

  • Hi, Neighbors!

    Our very own Capistrano Beach Park has been added to the cleanup day! Come down to 35005 Beach Road (at Coast Hwy)and lend a hand.

    Event at Capistrano Beach Park Sept 21 from 9am to 12 noon. Bring water, a hat, comfortable shoes and gloves. Check in table will be by basket ball courts. Check-in starts at 8:30 am. Ranger Molly is hosting- 949-923-2284.Bags and Parking Pass will be provided.

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