Willapa beach cleanup turns up plenty of debris

A state Department of Natural Resources crew has completed a month-long project that collected 9,380 pounds of marine debris from Willapa Bay beaches, the agency said in a news release Friday.

The beach clean-up campaign was “extremely successful,” said Todd Brownlee, supervisor of the DNR crew. Much of the debris consisted of Styrofoam and plastic water bottles as well as discarded items like rugs and tires.

“We filled three 20-yard (bins) and had two truckloads of overflow to haul to the dump, as well as 30 to 35 contractor bags of debris,” Brownlee said.

Brownlee said the four-person crew, which normally works as part of the DNR’s invasive species eradication program in Willapa Bay, found marine debris to be especially concentrated in such areas as Rhodesia Beach, Wilson Point and Bay Center on the bay’s eastern shoreline.

DNR plans to use its crew in the spring to check for additional marine debris on Willapa Bay beaches before the crew returns to its work to eradicate non-native spartina cordgrass that has invaded Willapa Bay’s intertidal waters and salt marshes.

Items from many parts of the Pacific Rim, including buoys and consumer plastics, regularly wash up on Washington beaches. A DNR statement said it is difficult to tell the origin of the debris without unique information such as an individual or company name, serial number or other identifying information, so it was not clear how much of it might have come from the 2011 tsunami in Japan.