Oregon Chapters of Surfrider Foundation are very excited to announce a new rapid response cleanup pilot project in partnership with and funded in part by NOAA’s Marine Debris Program and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation! The project kicked off at the beginning of  March through bringing on a project coordinator to lead efforts on the ground along the coast. While our chapters logged 80 cleanup events in 2013, we’ve really learned it’s less the quantity and more the strategy, which is what this project is all about.

It is not enough today to simply plan beach cleanups in a world where marine debris events do not correspond to our calendars. We enter a new era in beach cleanups where our strategy is highly tactical, responding to needs in more remote beach areas based on weather patterns and oceanographic events that spur an influx of marine debris. Sometimes this happens in sensitive habitats and the need is high to respond. In Oregon, we’ve seen our fair share of this. We’ve had the tsunami suspects – boats, foam, lumber, GIANT dock; but more often the case, we’re seeing larger and larger “debris events” linked a little more closely to home – from river-borne docks and foam to the constant plastic remains of the consumer lifestyle.

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Volunteers cleanup derelict fishing gear at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area

Project Coordinator Peter Snell will be working over the next 9 months with us to develop and implement protocols and guidelines while piloting and responding to marine debris events. We’ll be working very closely with Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Beach Rangers and Park Managers to identify and prioritize needs for sensitive and remote habitat areas. Throughout the project period, Peter will be mapping and uploading data to the Marine Debris Database, developed through the West Coast Governor’s Alliance on Ocean Health. We hope by the end of the year we’ll have a solid model that we can share throughout our national chapter network.

Southwestern Community College Volunteers form debris chains to remove debris from lighthouse beach

Southwestern Community College Volunteers form debris chains to remove debris from lighthouse beach

And in case you’re wondering what these cleanups look like and the value of their impact over your typical calendered cleanup event – check out this video from a Siuslaw rapid response cleanup or the Chevelle story that sold us on bringing Peter on board to lead this project.