Volunteers partner to clean base beaches for Int'l Coastal Cleanup

by Tech Sgt. Zachary Wilson
36th Wing Public Affairs

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam - -- Nearly 100 volunteers gathered at Tarague Beach Sept. 20 to participate in the 2014 International Coastal Cleanup.

The volunteers cleared several hundred pounds of trash, as well as five large trash bags containing recyclable materials to include tires, fishing nets and a discarded 55 gallon drum holding 10 gallons of waste oil, according to event organizers.

"I was so excited to see the turnout of volunteers, both the families [and service members]," said Thomas Spriggs, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Environmental Flight chief. "This was a great event and I'm very appreciative of all the support we received."

The Andersen beach cleanup was part of nearly two dozen events occurring on island beaches. While Tarague Beach is generally well-maintained, much work was needed for the cleanup at Scout and Sirena beaches, Spriggs said.

"Lots of trash and other materials washed up on [Scout and Sirena] as a result of the direct wave action of the ocean," he said. "Materials thrown overboard from boats or at other beaches get caught up in the currents and ends up on our beaches."

Workers placed their trash in bags and buckets and kept stringent records of what was picked up on clipboards to report the numbers to coastal conservancy organizations tracking cleanup operations worldwide.

Volunteers from the University of Guam and Andersen Air Force Base Marine Patrol who assisted in the cleanup also featured a display where facts and information about sea turtle nesting was disseminated to raise base-wide awareness. In addition to cleaning the trash, the representatives noted the base beaches are prime locations for sea turtle nesting season.

Marylou Staman, University of Guam Sea Turtle Monitoring, Protection and Educational Outreach on Guam project manager, walks the length of the Andersen beaches nearly every day tracking sea turtle nests and identified the Scout location as an area that needed attention.

"Nearly 1,000 turtles hatched from (in the Tarague Basin) alone this year," she said. "There is a lot of trash the turtles had to crawl through to get from their nests to the ocean."

The cleanup is coordinated by the Bureau of Statistics and Plans Guam Coastal Management Program, according to the Guam Environmental Protection Agency.
Though Tarague, Sirena and Scout beaches are part of Andersen, the top of Sanders Slope to the Tarague Basin is an established natural preservation and is still within the controls of off-base environmental agencies. The environmental flight works in partnership with the local authorities and members of Team Andersen to protect the fragile ecology of the area.

(Information from a previous www.andersen.af.mil article on conservation was used in this report.)

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