Registered: September 2009
City/Town/Province: Myakka City
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Cruising at 3 knots by power of a small tiller motor, I navigated my way down the 11 mile tributary. The mouth of the creek was beautiful; lush mangrove trees lined the banks, herons stalked the shallows in search of their dinner, and mullet erupted upon the surface while evading predators. Rounding a wide bend in the creek, I entered a portal, the breath-taking scenery and ecological activity was replaced with mounds of unnatural waste. I immediately put down my fly rod and pulled out my camera, snapping photos of the various impediments as I glided by. Instead of majestic photos of backwater snook and red-fish, my memory card was stuffed full of toilets, washing machines, and other various appliances.
When I got home, I e-mailed the alarming photographs to the director of environmental issues for Sarasota County, hoping that they would initiate a clean-up. Much to my astonishment, I received an e-mail stating that they “did not have the resources or funds to undertake the project”. I simply could not let this beautiful ecosystem be deteriorated by pollution and garbage; therefore I devoted all my free time and energy to the preservation of this area. For nearly two months I launched my 16-foot gheenoe after school and on weekends, each time returning with a surfeit of litter. My very last trip, I collected over 60 Kilograms of waste; I returned with every inch of floor space occupied, a porta-potty door perched up against the bow, and sitting on a washing machine because my seat had been stolen by a rusty bicycle.
I stored all the items I collected in large bins and sorted them out according to their composition. In total; I gathered 400 plastic objects, which weighed 50 Kilograms; 104 metal objects, which weighed 100 Kilograms; 35 glass objects, which weighed 30 Kilograms; 100 styrofoam objects, which weighed 5 Kilograms; and 40 rubber objects, which weighed 20 Kilograms. To ensure that the trash would not circulate back into the environment, I transported it all to a local recycling facility.
The tributary is now clean, and its beauty has been fully restored. I regularly take fishing trips in the area, and have yet to see any sign of recurring pollutants. Residents of the creek have thanked me for my efforts, and have shown their support by maintaining their backyards and scooping up floating trash if any happens to float by. I feel a great sense of accomplishment, not only because I have improved the quality of a pertinent Sarasota tributary, but because I have been able to involve the community in my effort. Before I embarked on the clean-up, many believed the creek to be a lost cause, and not worthy of the time and resources that the county claimed to be without. Now I see the community taking advantage of the water-way; many people participate in recreational activities such as kayaking, fishing, and swimming, and those who do show the up-most respect by ridding the area of any trash or they might see.
This has truly been a wonderful experience; it is amazing how one man’s actions can inspire so many people to take action themselves.