PORT RICHEY – International Coastal Cleanup Day, held this year on Sept. 21, proved a hit with local residents as they turned out at eight Pasco County sites ready to pick it up, bag it, and dispose of properly.
Pasco County worked in partnership with Keep Pasco Beautiful to help organize the event which drew more than 1,800 at last year’s event.
Estimates are those numbers were exceeded.
Becky Kesel, treasurer of the Salt Springs Alliance, was one of more than 300 who came to work at Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park.
“Last year we had around 250,” Kesel said. “It’s a little larger than last year.”
Kesel said the reason people are taking part in such large numbers is because “people really do care about the environment and keeping it clean.”
“This is an organized event, so more people find out about it and make the time to come,” she said. “They don’t always think, ‘Hey, I’m going out to the park and take a trash bag.’ ”
Kesel said the annual event has grown so large that “every single park is full in all of Pasco County.”
Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park, the city of Port Richey, Anclote Gulf Park and Strauber Memorial Highway, in Holiday, Hudson Beach, Lacoochee, Dade City, Land O’Lakes and the city of New Port Richey played host to the event.
Werner-Boyce Park Manager Adam Belden said for his location, it wasn’t just about the park itself.
“There really isn’t a lot of trash to pick up in the park, so we will split this group into smaller ones and go clean up the Wal-Mart parking lot and the area behind Toys ‘R’ Us,” Belden said. The group also cleaned along Salt Springs Road and around Gulf View Square.
The Pasco Sheriff’s Office helped block traffic along Scenic Road to help volunteers stay safe, he added.
“There will be some cleaning here in the park, but we are a host site and we are going to get out in the community and clean everything we can,” Belden said.