BMPs for Beach Cleanup Before Oil Washes Ashore

Someone at the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization or the Natural Resources Defense Council had a great idea: bring the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to the people where they live. And oh, aren't they getting ready to go on vacation, soon? Yeah, that's IT!

RMCO and NRDC put together a 42-page report, complete with heart-wrenching images of soiled, lifeless birds on the beach, pointing out the 15 national parks or natural areas most at risk from the BP oil blowout.

Special Places at Risk in the Gulf: Impacts of the BP Oil Catastrophe names sites in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. I have only been to one of them: Padre Island National Seashore in Texas, which is about 275 miles from the well, according to the report. With new estimates on the amount of oil being discharged and depending on the weather, I guess it is possible that the pollution could travel that distance.

The National Seashore is a great, primitive place. It's a beach where my children chased seagulls and played with the waves. It's where my parents parked their RV each winter to escape northern cold. It's where I tent camped and let the ocean lull me to sleep. I don't like the idea that it may be ruined for others ─ of any species.

When the environmental groups announced their report, they held a press conference. During the call, Enid Sisskin, Ph.D., University of West Florida and board member of several local and regional environmental groups, shared an aside about some well-intentioned people. She said that the weekend after the April 20 spill, a group decided to help in advance of any oil coming ashore by cleaning up the beach at Perdido Key State Park. As they dragged trash bags over the dunes, they inadvertently destroyed a colony of least terns. "There was not enough supervision," she commented.

That's the key, isn't it? Knowing what to do and HOW to do it. So during the call, Julie Wraithmell, wildlife policy coordinator, Florida Audubon, encouraged do-gooders to check out the best management practices for beach cleanup. Just in case, you were planning a park vacation this summer…

Posted on May 28, 2010

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