Volunteers to beautify Land O’ Lakes and Lutz
By Kyle LoJacono
For the last 25 years people have been participating in the International Coastal Cleanup each September to protect the planet’s waterways.
That effort transformed into on overall cleanup effort of all outdoor areas and several groups will be participating in north Hillsborough and central Pasco counties.
“It’s the largest volunteer effort to help protect the oceans, lakes and rivers,” said Jennifer Seney, Pasco County’s recycling coordinator. “More than 7.8 million people have removed more than 135 million pounds of trash from the shoreline since it started 25 years ago.”
The first Coastal Cleanup in Pasco was 23 years ago, according to Seney. About 500,000 volunteers removed 7.4 million pounds of trash around the world last year. This year in Pasco, the event will be from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 18.
The first inland event in Pasco was in Land O’ Lakes and its original organizers, Betsy Crisp and Kurt Conover, have participated in all 21 of them. Crisp said the Land O’ Lakes site has about 500 volunteers each year, making it the largest Pasco site.
“Last year, we picked up 6.25 percent (one ton) of the total 16.1 tons collected that day,” Crisp said. “We had 429 volunteers in 38 teams turn out, 30.5 percent of the 1,400 total volunteers county-wide.”
Before 1990, the cleanups were only on Pasco’s Gulf coast. At that time, Joanne Hurley was the county’s recycling coordinator and worked to bring the project inland to help the rivers and lakes.
“Before 1990 there were some attempts at cleanups inland, but they were isolated and we thought we needed to have a more comprehensive approach,” said Hurley, now a member of the Pasco County School Board.
Hurley said she still participates in Crisp’s cleanup, which was along Kent Grove Road in 2009. This year the Land O’ Lakes cleanup is along SR 54, along Collier Parkway and through Parkway Boulevard all the way to Ehren Cutoff. They will start at the corner of SR 54 and Osprey Lane.
Crisp has seen many strange things during the cleanups.
“Every year a new discovery,” Crisp said. “My favorite, the biggest haul of all time was brought in by my daughter’s junior Girl Scout troop. They discovered a huge pile of 18 semi-truck tires dumped off Parkway and refused to leave their treasure by the roadside for the county to pick up. They formed a caravan of cars and trucks to get them back to the drop-off site.
“My husband, Paul, usually mans the dumpster every year and remembers the rear bumper of a car, complete with license tag,” Crisp continued.
There is another central Pasco cleanup near Connerton led by Alex Murphy. For more information on the cleanup, call Seney at (727) 847-8041 or e-mail her at .
In Hillsborough the cleanups are a week later, Sept. 25, at the same time of day. Lutz has two sites, one at the Old Lutz Schoolhouse at 18819 N. US 41 and at Ramblewood Road at the entrance of Brooker Creek Preserve.
The cleanup at the schoolhouse brings several groups, including Boy and Girl Scouts, to clean up areas of Lutz along US 41. For more information on other Hillsborough sites or to sign up, visit www.khcbonline.org.
Seney said she participates in a Wesley Chapel cleanup near the interchange of I-75 and SR 54. This year the event is along Old Pasco Road and is organized by Jeff Pope.
“We get out there twice a year, in the fall during the Coastal Cleanup and in the spring for the Great American Cleanup,” Seney said. “One year we filled 56 bags of garbage from Overpass Road. Those were the 30 gallon trash bags and we did it three years ago. That’s the most I’ve seen.”
Also part of the Pasco cleanups is a collection for people to bring any type of odd metal they are trying to get rid of, including metal appliances, air conditioners, grills, shelves, cabinet and bed frames, bikes, tools, pipes and poles, insulated wire and lawn mowers. The collection is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 18 at Pasco Lakes, 9344 Old Pasco Road in Wesley Chapel.
The metal will be recycled to help pay for the 2010 Coastal Cleanup in Pasco. Also being collected are car, truck and tractor batteries to be safely recycled.
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