Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

CUMBERLAND ISLAND CLEANUP Restoring the Coast Inmates, Residents Pick Up 3 Tons of Junk

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

CUMBERLAND ISLAND CLEANUP Restoring the Coast Inmates, Residents Pick Up 3 Tons of Junk

Article excerpt

CUMBERLAND ISLAND -- If you stand on the beach at Cumberland Island National Seashore and look to the horizon, you will see miles and miles of shoreline where unblemished sand touches the rolling tides.

However, until a recent cleanup, nearly 3 tons of garbage, debris and fishing equipment marred the island's pristine beauty. With a staff too small to tackle the project and limited funds, Art Frederick, superintendent of Cumberland Island National Seashore, asked the community for help.

The result was island residents and inmates from the Camden County Sheriff's Department teaming up yesterday to restore nearly 18 miles of coastline.

"It's so pristine that any garbage really stands out," said Whit Foster, an island homeowner who helped with the cleanup. "As beaches go, this one isn't very dirty, but whenever we get a little bit of dirt it really looks terrible."

The debris, which was mostly left over from Hurricane Floyd, included a small fishing boat and many of plastic and glass items that washed ashore. Allowing the trash to remain on the island not only mars the island's pristine quality but is a health and safety risk for visitors and marine life, Frederick said

"There are plenty of health and safety issues at stake," Frederick said. "We don't want our visitors exposed to any danger and we want to keep the area safe for the loggerhead turtles and nesting birds that live there."

Nearly 30 homeowners and their guests paired with inmates during the cleanup, which Frederick said allowed his staff to work on other restoration and maintenance projects.

Frederick said the partnership was something he's used in previous parks service posts in the Atlanta and Blue Ridge Mountain areas to complete projects.

"This is a very efficient and effective program," he said. "We save thousands of dollars and get the job done quicker by allowing our personnel to concentrate on other areas. …

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