By Jessi A. James, MSICP Program Coordinator
Mississippi Inland Cleanup Program’s journey to organize a kayak cleanup for litter removal and prevention was nothing short of a challenge for the program coordinator.
With what seemed like an abnormally rainy summer, it was incredibly difficult to schedule an engaging and enjoyable event around the many tropical systems that entered the Gulf of Mexico this past summer.
However, the MSICP team (with additional support from the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup and Derelict Trap Reward Programs) was able to preserve and finally get one sunny Saturday to move forward with the cleanup event!
On Saturday, June 26th, 33 volunteers met at Ocean Springs Harbor (Ocean Springs, MS) and removed 120.6 pounds of trash from both the shoreline and surrounding waters. Kayaks were made available for those volunteers willing to check out a boat and get wet.
In addition to hosting a public event, an opportunity arose for MSICP to integrate a litter removal cleanup into a local summer camp curriculum.
Aside from spending a week learning about climate change and its direct effects on our local ecosystems, 20 high school students removed an impressive 320 pounds of trash from an estuarine system in the nearby Biloxi Back Bay and shores of Deer Island (Biloxi, MS).
These dedicated students cleared marshland of discarded debris, discussed its impact on our local community, and learned how to prevent litter from entering the environment by stopping it at its source!
Removing marine debris and derelict traps from these areas was extremely important to the local estuaries as these contain public beaches and harbors that see many visitors daily. Aside from the area providing a wide-open, natural area for recreational tourism and fishing, resident harbors act as a port for fisherfolk to dock their commercial fishing boats.
Much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s local seafood industry is run out of these harbors (especially the one along Ocean Springs Front Beach), making this area incredibly economically important.
This particular estuary that leads out into the Mississippi Sound is also ecologically rich with many migratory juvenile species that can be found in the mix of Juncus marsh grass.
This cleanup, and many more community-based events in the future, make lasting positive impacts on people in the area. Our volunteer base can directly serve their communities by cleaning up the surrounding area and then take a step further by returning homes to spread the wealth of marine debris knowledge they’ve learned from participating in our events.
Funding from Restore America’s Estuaries not only made this event successful but has provided supplies to continue the efforts of making Mississippi a cleaner state for many more cleanup events to come! For additional information on the Mississippi Inland Cleanup Program, and other prevention projects, head over to www.nolittermovement.com for more!
The Mississippi Inland Cleanup Program (MSICP) is a trash-free education and cleanup event program, created as an expansion of the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup Program. This new initiative extends the efforts of the coastal program by removing debris from the environment through preventive measures and providing outreach to help stop trash at its inland source.