Dr. Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful
I love the beach and sitting on the docks near the water. My grandson Bryce likes to go swimming in the water and go fishing. In Liberty County, we are blessed with some fantastic water locations.
Sunbury Boat Ramp, Riceboro Boat Ramp, Half Moon Boat Marina, or walking around the pond at Bryant Commons are very relaxing. Liberty County is a coastal community, and we have many homes right off the water. We also have one of the prettiest barrier islands on the Georgia coast, St. Catherine’s Island. But it will only be pretty as long as we protect its white sandy beach line and the water flowing around it.
For 15 years, Keep Liberty Beautiful has been sponsoring beach “sweeps” with good-hearted local boaters and volunteers. Since 2007, we have cleaned up the public beach on St. Catherine’s Island. It is hard to believe that this somewhat isolated beach would have that much trash unless you realize the powerful effects of marine debris and beachgoers who leave their trash behind.
Litter is a sad, continuous problem, whether roadside or a park, but it is unfortunate when it affects our waterways.
Having clean water is very important to humans, animals and plants. To have clean water and unpolluted beaches, we must fight the damaging effects of marine debris.
How does marine debris occur? Unfortunately, our waterways and the creatures that depend on them for their habitats are in danger when people litter. Our oceans get filled with many consumer plastics, metals, paper, fishing gear and other lost or discarded items that enter the marine environment daily. This makes marine debris one of the most widespread pollution problems facing the world’s oceans and waterways.
Marine debris is an eyesore along our coastline. It ruins the beauty of the beaches, and I am sure it creates a financial cost from losing valuable tourism dollars. Would you want to swim at a beach littered with trash? One of the saddest impacts of marine debris is wildlife entanglement.
Abandoned nets, ropes, fishing lines, six-pack rings and other types of marine debris can be death traps for many forms of marine life. Turtles, fish and even birds can get tangled up in these items leading to injury, suffocation and starvation. Many animals can also mistake debris for food, leading to internal damage and intestinal blockage.
Everyone in Liberty County should be concerned about the importance of water issues.
These are issues that all of us, young and old, need to confront. Over 40% of our county is marshes, wetlands, ponds, creeks and rivers.
So, whether you are a fisherman, an avid boater, a beachgoer or just someone who likes clean water, we can all do these things: • Keep streets, sidewalks, parking lots and storm drain free of trash.
They can empty into our waterways and oceans.
• At the beach, park, playground and even work or in town, dispose of all trash in the proper receptacles, or take your trash home with you. Pick up any debris you see while out, and recycle as many items as possible.
• Think about the materials and packaging you might take to the beach or for a day on the water. Choose reusable items and use fewer single- use, disposable ones.
Never dump the trash in the water, and report any illegal dumping you observe.
• Marina operators who participate in the Clean Marina Program, https://cleanmarina.org/, should provide labeled and adequately sized garbage and recycling bins for your staff and customers. Keep trash cans, dumpsters and recycling bins from overflowing by emptying them regularly, and ensure they are covered, secured and can’t be opened by strong winds or animals.
The only way to ensure clean waterways is to actively prevent items from ending up as marine debris on land or water.
The other meaningful way all of us can fight marine debris is to participate in area cleanups around our community. You can join our Beach Sweep Cleanup on Sept. 10 at St. Catherine’s Island. We need more boat captains, too.
Sign up at bit.ly/KLB_ Boat_Captains_2022, or contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at (912) 880-4888 or klcb@libertycountyga. com to get involved today.