About 340 volunteers fanned out across Land O’ Lakes to pick up litter and trash along the area’s roads, public lands and waterways.
They were among the thousands who took part in Pasco County, as part of the annual International Coastal Cleanup event on Sept. 21.
Volunteers in Dade City, Lacoochee, New Port Richey, Port Richey, Hudson and Holiday also joined in the efforts that were organized by Pasco County and the not-for-profit environmental organization, Keep Pasco Beautiful.
Those pitching in on the Land O’ Lakes effort met around 8 a.m., at the community center at Heritage Park, 5401 Land O’ Lakes Blvd., to pick up gloves, trash bags, safety vests and bottles of water.
Event sponsors paid for the supplies, and volunteers who had registered received a keepsake bag and an event T-shirt.
Some of the volunteers have been helping out for decades, including 84-year-old Gloria Dale, of the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club, who worked at the registration table. She’s been pitching in for 26 years.
Lottie Kelley, another longtime volunteer, has helped for 24 years.
She works for Covanta, one of the event sponsors, and was the Land O’ Lakes site captain.
Helping to keep Pasco clean and green is what makes the event important, Kelley said.
“Litter is very unsightly, and it’s not good for the county,” Kelley said.
Besides being unattractive, roadway trash can be dangerous for wildlife, she said.
“We need to keep the litter off the roadways, so the animals don’t eat it. They can end up being in a terrible situation,” Kelley said.
She said this year’s effort focused on roadways in Land O’ Lakes, including Ehren Cutoff, Collier Parkway, Parkway Boulevard, Hale Road, Bell Lake Road and Carson Drive.
Boy Scout troops 33 and 34, and Cub Scout Pack 33 from Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Land O’ Lakes, collected trash along large stretches of Collier Parkway and Parkway Boulevard.
The troops have been participating in this event for approximately 15 years and, over the years, have picked up all sorts of items, including a glass table, a microwave, beer bottles and even a device that looked like a pipe bomb.
The idea is to remove every piece of trash discarded on the roadways to prevent it from ending up in waterways, and eventually into oceans.
As each piece trash is picked up, it is recorded on sheets, or on a downloadable app provided by the nonprofit organization Ocean Conservancy.
The ocean-advocacy group is on a mission to tackle the greatest global challenges facing the ocean.
By recording the types of trash and the amounts, the group can establish a snapshot and a state-by-state index of the problem of marine debris.
Last year, 1,823 volunteers picked up 11.94 tons of trash throughout Pasco County, according to the Keep Pasco Beautiful website.
Published September 25, 2019