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Island lands clean up funds

Island County received more than $60,000 from the Washington State Department of Ecology that will be devoted to litter cleanup programs.

The $62,611 from the DOE’s Community Litter Cleanup Program will go toward beach cleanup programs in Island County.

Janet Hall, Island County/WSU Waste Wise volunteer coordinator as well as coordinator of the Lighthouse Environmental Program, said the money will be used to fund volunteer, public beach-cleaning efforts on behalf of Island County.

Since most of the beach property in Island County is private, she said a program will be offered for private land owners to clean their beaches.

“Ninety nine point nine percent of the litter doesn’t come from the landowner,” Hall said.

Bags will be provided to owners who will fill them and the Lighthouse Environmental Program will haul it off for free.

She said groups can volunteer to maintain the numeous public beaches in Island County.

The money will fund field trips where community and school groups will participate in a beach cleanup and then sort and survey the trash that is found.

Hall said the effort also provides an opportunity to learn about the decay rate of litter, as volunteers often find Styrofoam, plastic and disposable lighters when combing the beaches.

The DOE Community Litter Cleanup Program doles out its money every two years.

This year, the state program handed out almost $900,000 to seven counties to pick up litter and for anti-litter education programs.

Skagit County received more than $73,000 to operate a litter cleanup crew composed of inmates and offenders sentenced to do litter cleanups on county roads and public-access areas.

San Juan County took a similar course when they received more than $47,000. The money will fund cleanup crews of youth volunteers and juvenile and adult offenders to clean county roads and public parks.

The fund gets money from a tax imposed on industries whose products contribute to the litter problem.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at nwhalen@whidbeynewstimes.com or 675-6611.

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