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It's coast cleanup time; volunteers are needed

Wanted: Hernando County residents to help clean up the county's coastline during the 13th annual Florida Coastal Cleanup on Saturday.

Volunteers will work from 8 a.m. to noon, picking up litter. A picnic lunch for participants will be held at noon at Hernando Beach Park. T-shirts and prizes will be awarded.

Anyone wanting to participate is asked to show up Saturday morning at Hernando Beach Park on Shoal Line Boulevard. Equipment needed for the pickup, which is being sponsored locally by Keep Hernando County Beautiful, will be provided. Organizers ask that young children be chaperoned.

The coastal cleanup is an annual event that involves coastal residents of some 90 countries. It got its start in Texas in 1986 and expanded nationwide in 1988. Canada and Mexico joined the effort in 1989. The cleanup is sponsored by the Center for Marine Conservation.

In addition to beautifying coastal lands, one of the benefits of the cleanup is that marine life can live in a safer environment. Each year, thousands of marine animals die after becoming entangled in or ingesting debris, according to the Center for Marine Conservation.

During past cleanups in Hernando, several hundred volunteers have picked up tons of trash along waterways, canals, coastal streets and islands.

Last year, because of bad weather, only about 200 people turned out. Still, 4,368 pounds of garbage were picked up along 71 miles, including a refrigerator full of food and a set of false teeth, said Sherry Magbee of Keep Hernando Beautiful.

One woman even found a glass eye, which she later discovered belonged to her neighbor.

Anyone wanting more information about Saturday's cleanup may call Keep Hernando County Beautiful at 797-0505.