Beach Cleanup is Focus for National Parks America Tour Stop at Padre Island National Seashore

Volunteers participating in the NPAT-sponsored beach cleanup at Padre Island National Seashore will gather at the Malaquite Visitor Center at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, October 18. NPS photo.

The Unilever-sponsored National Parks America Tour, a program that provides thousands of volunteers for national park projects each year, has organized a beach cleanup at Padre Island National Seashore. When Hurricane Ike smashed into the north Texas Gulf Coast last September 13, dealing a heavy blow to the Houston-Galveston area, a huge amount of debris ended up in the water. It’s been washing ashore ever since. Padre Island National Seashore lies well south of the storm’s main path, but the Seashore has been on the receiving end of so much storm debris that removal efforts have taxed park resources for weeks on end. A lot of trash remains on the Padre Island beaches, and more is washing ashore every day.

Volunteer help is sorely needed, so the NPS is delighted to welcome the National Parks America Tour, which is sponsoring the beach cleanup event scheduled at Padre Island for tomorrow (Saturday, October 18). More than 50 volunteers have signed up so far and others are expected.

Here are the salient details:

National Parks America Tour

What: Volunteer shoreline cleanup at Padre Island National Seashore

Where: Malaquite Visitor Center

When: Saturday, October 18
-- 8:00 to 8:30 a.m. - registration
-- 8:30 to 9 a.m. - Welcome ceremony and work orders given
-- 9:30 a.m. to noon - volunteers work cleanup
-- 12:30 p.m. - Great American Picnic lunch

Who: Adults, families and youth of all ages (adults must accompany children under 16)

Pre-registration - Contact Dimitra Guerrero at 361-949-8173, ext. 229

The sponsors will provide breakfast, T-shirts and supplies, including gloves, trash bags, and data cards to record the types of trash collected. Volunteers are asked to bring sunscreen, hats and longs sleeve shirts if desired

Unilever has a long standing association with Padre Island National Seashore. Over the past nine years the corporation has committed more than $135,000 to the Seashore’s highly acclaimed Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Science and Recovery Program.

Unilever’s National Parks America Tour is a volunteer-driven initiative offered in cooperation with the National Park Foundation. According to Unilver, the NPAT program has supplied more than 70,000 volunteers -- employees, community groups, school children, scouts, and citizens of all ages -- to the national parks since 1998. Together they have accounted for over 285,000 manpower hours with an in-kind worth of at least $4.25 million.

If you’d like to volunteer for the National Parks America Tour, whether for the Padre Island cleanup or an upcoming stop at a different park, see this site for information about registration and this site for additional scheduled stops. The volunteer projects (Tour stops) are scheduled for Saturdays. More than two dozen NPAT stops will have been scheduled before the end of this year.

Post script: Padre Island National Seashore has been keeping records of beach debris removals since 1998. This project, one of the first long-term, comprehensive marine debris research projects in America, has yielded some interesting results. In normal times, the vast majority of the debris that comes ashore at Padre Island can be traced to the commercial shrimping industry. About 14%, or around one-seventh, comes from the offshore oil and gas industry. Storm debris is a transient problem, which is not to say that it’s negligible. The huge amount of debris produced by Hurricane Ike will strongly skew this year’s Padre Island debris removal data.