Milestone: Clallam Marine Resources Committee helps keep Elwha beach free of waste

  • Tuesday, January 30, 2018 2:22pm
  • Life

Through a grant provided by the Northwest Straits Commission, Clallam Marine Resources Committee (MRC) is helping to keep the Elwha beach free of human waste and pet waste by installing a portable toilet and pet waste station near the trail to the beach.

These facilities supplement those installed by Surfrider Foundation in the parking area several years ago.

“This has been a great collaborative project involving the Clallam MRC, the Surfrider Foundation, and most importantly, the local and tribal landowners that allow us access to this beautiful area,” Clallam MRC chair Jeff Ward said. “Those enjoying the beach should repay the favor by being good stewards and protecting this fragile and important environment.”

During high-use days the Sanikan and the dog waste disposal bin in the parking lot cannot meet the demand. Because the Surfrider Foundation supports other Sanikans throughout Clallam County they are not able to fund an additional Sanikan and dog waste disposal bin at West Elwha Beach.

To meet the demand, Clallam MRC decided to fund the additional Sanikan, dog waste disposal bin and provide a dog waste bag dispenser.

The MRC also funded a new sign displayed at the trail head which stresses that continued access to the beach depends on the public keeping the beach clean.

The decision to add an additional portable toilet and pet waste station is a direct result of the Clallam MRC intern program. In 2015 the Clallam MRC moved its intern-led Fourth of July firework cleanup effort from Ediz Hook to the beach west of Elwha River as the fireworks ban came into effect in Port Angeles. It quickly became apparent that the main issue at the beach was not firework debris, but pet and human waste.

As the 2017 intern, Waverly Shreffler — a 2016 graduate of Sequim High School — noted in her public presentation: “What I did not expect to find was 54 dog poops lining the dike out to the beach (about 950 feet). I determined early on that this should be my focus for outreach, reducing dog waste on the dike and beach by encouraging visitors to pick up after their dog.”

Through the summer, Shreffler conducted usage surveys and educational outreach at the beach including installing a row of small humorous signs encouraging owners to pick up after their dogs. Another issue Shreffler pointed out to the dog owners is the impact of free running dogs on migrating bird’s ability to feed in the expanded more food abundant river delta.

The Clallam County Marine Resources Committee is a team local citizens representing commercial and sport fishers, conservation and environmental interests as well as tribes, cities, academia and other local governmental agencies. The group works together to promote local solutions that address the degradation of natural resources in Clallam County.

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