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Sequim residents help clean coast

More than 22 tons of waste, from plastic water bottles and household trash to lost fishing gear, disappeared from Washington state's coastline last weekend.

Sequim residents joined the more than 1,100 Washington Coast Cleanup Day volunteers at various points along the coast to give the state's shores a "spring cleaning" of sorts.

Organized by the Washington Clean Coast Alliance, the clean-up day was aligned with the Saturday before Earth Day (April 22).

"We love doing this every year," said Peter Craig, who volunteered at Ruby Beach with his wife, Susan, and children Jessica, 10, and Mathew, 8.

"It's very important to help get rid of all this trash that washes up. We bring our kids and invite our friends," he said. "It turns into a fun gathering and it's a great environmental lesson for everyone."

Susan said it was the family's fourth year at the coast cleanup. This year, they joined Sequim residents Dave Schreffler and Ann Soule and the couple's children.

"I love the beach," she said. "It always frustrates me that there's always so much garbage on them. It gives (my children) a good lesson. They love it and they have fun cleaning up garbage."

David Lindau, program coordinator for Washington CoastSavers, said the event was a success.

"That so many people decided to take action and come all the way out here to clean it up is truly amazing." Lindau said. "No amount of thanks is enough for these volunteers."

The volunteers also got praise from Carol Bernthal, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary superintendent

"It's great that people are becoming aware of marine debris as a global problem," she said. "But it is especially encouraging that more and more people are doing something about it and getting involved at the local level. The efforts of everyone who volunteered today have made an important difference

in preserving our coastal ecosystem."

Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin expressed gratitude for the CoastSavers partnership.

"We are very thankful for the efforts of each and every volunteer - this cleanup simply couldn't happen without them - and for the Washington CoastSavers' work to organize and energize this huge and extremely valuable event," Gustin said.

The Washington Coast Cleanup is the biggest annual cleanup on the Washington coast and is organized by the Washington Clean Coast Alliance. Alliance members include Clallam Bay-Sekiu Lions Club, Discover Your Northwest, Grass Roots Garbage Gang, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Olympic National Park, Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association, Surfrider Foundation and Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

For more information and to sign up for the Washington Coast Cleanup, visit the Washington CoastSavers Web site at www.coastsavers.org.

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