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International Coastal Cleanup Clears Thousands of Pieces of Garbage from South Walton Beaches

Visit South Walton, in partnership with Friends of South Walton Sea Turtles Volunteer Beach Ambassador Team, hosted the 2021 International Coastal Cleanup on Saturday, Sept. 18. A host team of 33 Volunteer Beach Ambassadors and Neighborhood Captains covered seven sites across South Walton. The sites included the Miramar Beach Regional Beach Access, Dune Allen Regional Beach Access, Ed Walline Regional Beach Access, Santa Clara Regional Beach Access, Inlet Beach Regional Beach Access, Big Red Fish Coastal Dune Lake and the public beach behind Surf Hut off Scenic Gulf Drive in Miramar Beach.

 "The Volunteer Spirit of Walton County citizens never ceases to amaze me,” Lead Beach Ambassador Laurie Reichenbach said. “Once again, people from all over the county showed up to put in the time to clean our beaches for International Coastal Cleanup. We had 360 plus volunteers, both adults and Walton County School Students make this cleanup their Saturday morning priority and we are thankful for their service. I also want to thank the Volunteer Beach Ambassadors who hosted our 7 sites and did a fantastic job registering the volunteers and getting shirts handed out to all.  International Coastal Cleanup proved that a small group of dedicated citizens can make a true difference in their community. And, they did!"­

Participants saw only a small amount of rain in Miramar as fair skies spread across much of South Walton. Volunteers included 247 adults and 115 students amounting to 362 participants.  At an average of two hours per person, Walton County citizens donated approximately 724 hours of their time to clean the beaches.

This year the VBA Team put additional preparatory time into learning how to use the Clean Swell App and helped other people get signed up onsite for data collection. While the paper data forms were plentiful and well used, their totals do not reflect our total debris collection, as Ocean Conservancy will not have that data assessed from the Clean Swell App for a while. But based on the data cards, Walton County citizenry did a fine job.  

Top Ten Items collected from our beaches per data sheet count only:

#1 Cigarette Butts 4,028

#2 Small Plastic Pieces/Particles 2,655

#3 Plastic Bottle Caps 562

#4 Food Wrappers (candy, chips, etc) 515

#5 Foam Pieces 465

#6 Straws/Stirrers 432

#7 Other Plastic/Foam Packaging 215

#8 Metal Bottle Caps 166

#9 Fireworks 155

#10 Relative Tie between Construction Materials 130 and Cigar Tips 126

Visit South Walton would like to thank all the site captains and their host team for a job well done, the citizens that gave of their time and effort to volunteer to cleanup South Walton Beaches, and Christy Gibson, Manager of the Visit South Walton Visitor Center, and her team for providing the Octopus themed ICC t-shirts to all of our volunteers. It was another GREAT International Coastal Cleanup for South Walton!