Rich King knows there's no end to trash on the beach.
“We could come out every week and get a full bag of trash,” he said on March 22, while waiting for others to join him in the Delaware Seashore State Park’s Key Box Road parking lot just south of Dewey Beach.
King, an avid fisherman who runs the popular Delaware Surf Fishing website, organized voluntary beach clean ups a few weeks ago at Beach Plum Island. He sees trash littering the beaches every time he goes fishing.
After one of the recent storms, he said, the reeds were thigh-high and 6 feet wide, full of trash. “These beaches are packed full of trash. They don’t get combed. They don’t get maintained.”
The group of volunteers who showed was a small but energetic group. It included Ben Smith, a Pennsylvania man who owns the Delaware state record for striped bass at 52 pounds, Lewes resident Amy Adamcik, her four children – Sydney, Caroline, John, and Sam - and a neighborhood friend, Ryan Baker.
Smith drove 120 miles to help clean up the beach.
“I get to spend the day at the beach. I love Delaware Seashore State Park, and I get to be a part of what Rich is doing,” said Smith. “The fact that I don’t live in Delaware doesn’t matter. I use this beach too.”
It was the first time Amy had volunteered to clean up the beach. She said she brought the kids out to teach them they are not too young to pitch in and clean the beach.
A stiff wind made the beach a little chilly that morning, but it quickly released a long winter of pent-up energy.
“It’s good to put them to work and to get them some fresh air,” she said smiling as the five children sprinted up the trail on the sand dune.
The oldest child, Sydney, earned hours to put towards her AVID program's requirements.
“We need five hours of community service a marking period,” she said.
The goal for the day was to start at the Key Box Road drive-on and work their way south towards the Indian River Inlet bridge.
Kids being kids, they weren’t very good at slowly scouring the surface of the beach for tiny pieces of trash. They would sprint ahead of the adults, find the biggest pieces of trash, and bring them back – as if the contest was to see who could find the most unusual piece of trash. John was a strong contender with an empty 1-gallon antifreeze container.
The adults did the scouring. They spread out three wide and walked with their eyes glued to the sand to find anything man made. They found plastic bottles, pieces of plastic bags, a number of sunglasses, old oil containers, cigarettes butts, and long list of other trash items that don’t belong on a beach.
“It’s all this trash coming from the Delaware Bay and the river. It’s just garbage floating down and then it washes up here no matter what we do,” said King.
King was undeterred by the relatively low volunteer turn out. He’s going to keep cleaning up the beaches every weekend until the tourist season begins.
“We started at Beach Plum Island and we’re making our way south to the bridge,” he said. “Then we’re going to start all over again.”
For those interested in future beach clean ups, information will be posted on the Delaware Surf Fishing Facebook page.