By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
I don’t think there’s a single person in the Laguna Madre region who doesn’t realize just how important our environment is — and just how fragile it is.
One of the best parts about living here is seeing how much my fellow residents care about the native life that cradles these communities. From our fishermen and women who take eager tourists on fishing charters in the Gulf and the bay, to our shrimpers who cast their nets far offshore, to our sand sculptors who show wide-eyed kids and adults alike how to turn simple grains of sand into powerful, finite works of art, many of our livelihoods depend on the natural resources that exist here. So, it’s no surprise that many of us become active stewards of this place many refer to as one of the jewels of Texas.
And this weekend will be the perfect time to see some of that stewardship in action. All across the state of Texas, volunteers will join organizers with the Texas Government Land Office (GLO) and Texas Adopt-a-Beach in a statewide effort to clean the beaches along our 700 miles of coastline. Several of those will take place on our Island, including cleanups at Isla Blanca Park, City Access 3, and on the north side of the Island at Andy Bowie Park. Adopt-a-Beach is also sponsoring a cleanup effort at Boca Chica Beach.
But beyond the cleanups sponsored by Adopt-a-Beach, several more cleanups will also occur Saturday, as well. For the first time, the City of South Padre Island is sponsoring a cleanup of the bayside of the Island, deploying volunteers at Jim’s Pier, Parrot Eyes, and at various bay-end streets. Some volunteers will even patrol the waters near to shore, plucking trash from the bay itself.
Staff from the UTRGV Coastal Studies Lab, along with a group of students, will make a brief tour at Arturo Galvan Park in Port Isabel to pick up trash that morning, while personnel from the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge will conduct a cleanup of their own at their Bahia Grande unit along Highway 48. Volunteers are welcome to help out at the Bahia cleanup.
Our beaches and wetlands are beautiful places, which can seem fairly pristine to the untrained eye, but one can be astonished at the end of a massive cleanup event such as the ones to take place Saturday. It’s not an exaggeration to say that tons of trash will be collected in the few short morning hours that volunteers are scouring the area.
And unfortunately, it’s not a one-and-done deal. Several cleanups are held throughout the year, every year. And every year, tons of trash are picked up. We’re blessed to be able to live here, benefiting from the gifts bestowed to us by Mother Earth. The least we can do to say thanks in return is to help care for and treasure those gifts.
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