Hope and renewal at the beach

The coastline of St. Augustine Beach has it all: A gentle surf and refreshing breeze, sandpipers running along the shoreline and those lovely plastic cups, cigarette butts and other remnants of the human race.

If you want to do something about it, registration is open for anyone who would like to help clean up the beach around the St. Johns County Ocean & Fishing Pier. See link.

CleanSweep STA is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on May 6, the start of Mother’s Day weekend. Meghan Holder said she started the event in 2018 to honor and help her cope with the passing of her mother, Dawn.

Holder said people routinely leave children’s beach toys, fishing line and cigarette butts along the shoreline. Tourists, housing and business developments and offshore drilling also contribute to the problem of pollution and trash on the beach, Holder said.

“You definitely have the aesthetic consequence of it being dirty, and the effects on the physical attributes on the wildlife and biochemistry,” she said.

Rapid growth and development complicates efforts to keep the beach clean. Nails and other construction materials from nearby housing projects sometimes wind up on the beach.

Photo: Allison Kindley

“There are some measures by some developers, but of course the creative and unique engineering is more expensive because it’s not cookie cutter,” said Holder, who has a degree in marine environmental science.

She said the most important thing for local residents is to lead by example and show developers that they care. “If they see locals appreciating their surroundings, maybe they’ll take the hint.”

Photo: Allison Kindley

Holder said she is from a military family and has moved around quite a bit in the United States, but Florida is her favorite spot.

She has a degree in marine environmental science and is interested in environmental causes. Her group’s mission statement says: “Clean Sweep StA, LLC was created as a means to tie in a passion for the ocean, environmental preservation and stewardship as well as a means to honor my mother, Dawn Holder, near the time of her passing in a way that is conducive to positively focused mental health practices.”

CleanSweep uses sponsorships to help buy supplies needed for cleanup events. As many as 100 people are expected to take part in the May 6 event, which will feature a cornhole tournament, live music, food and prizes for whoever picks up the most trash.

Story by Elisabeth Shirley. Aerial photo: Google Maps.

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