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Save Our Shores 'extreme cleanup' at Cowell's cave launches new program
[December 25, 2012]

Save Our Shores 'extreme cleanup' at Cowell's cave launches new program

SANTA CRUZ, Dec 25, 2012 (Santa Cruz Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- After conducting an "extreme cleanup" last week of a refuse-strewn cave near Cowell Beach, Save Our Shores has offered the city a cadre of volunteers should the area get bad again.

The Santa Cruz-based organization, which sponsors regular beach cleanups, announced its new "Extreme Cleanups" program after the hourlong operation Dec. 20 in the Collins Cove section of the beach. Director Laura Kasa said city staff will monitor the area weekly, then enlist her organization's help whenever the cave or other specific sites need attention.

"Our job is not to scope these things out, but if there are issues, we can provide the volunteers to do the cleanup," Kasa said.

The organization worked with city parks staff and police to access the site down a steep and slippery path. Wearing headlamps, face masks and gloves, Saves Our Shores staff and volunteers brought out 56 pounds of trash, including seven syringes, a dozen trash bags, razors, condoms, tampons, broken glass, 75 small cigar wrappers, and five pounds of human feces collected in buckets and dog-waste bags.

Until venturing into the dark recesses of the cave, Kasa said, "I've never been afraid in my job. I was afraid to go into that dark corner and see what was there." The problem of trash and drug refuse around Cowell's came to the city's attention in November after a surfing instructor filmed a four-minute video of the area, posted it online and, with the help of friends, hauled away truckloads of garbage. The video drew dozens of concerned citizens to the Nov. 27 City Council meeting and a forum hosted by its public safety committee Dec. 17.

Vice Mayor Lynn Robinson, who participated in the Save Our Shores cleanup, said city departments are working together to monitor Cowell's and other sites. She welcomed help from citizens in identifying problem areas and keeping them clean.

"The community often sees people going in there that we don't know about," Robinson said of the caves. "Make those calls and let people know. Between the community and city staff efforts, I see us being able to maintain this as long as people are willing to stay the course." Save Our Shores doesn't typically get involved in targeted operations, with the exception of a 2008 effort to remove trash from a remote section of Aptos Creek. In addition to the Collins Cove site, the group is also now working on a plan for cleaning up a Davenport beach that draws trash.

Kasa said the "extreme cleanups" fit the organization's mission because syringes, plastic and other refuse can harm marine life, as well as surfers and others accessing the sea. The group is seeking volunteers for the new effort, and will train them on how to handle dangerous refuse.

"There are more areas like this," she said.

Follow Sentinel reporter J.M. Brown on Twitter at HOW TO HELP --Save Our Shores is seeking volunteers for its new "Extreme Cleanup" program, and training will be provided. To sign up or ask questions, contact Program Coordinator Rachel Kippen at For more information about the organization, visit

___ (c)2012 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) Visit the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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