Four tons of trash collected in less than four hours! Some 30 volunteers wearing Friends of Billy Creek (FOBs) T-shirts joined city workers and waded through ankle-deep muck Dec. 10 collecting bags of garbage that littered the shores of the creek. Others took to the water in canoes and kayaks, picking up floating garbage and debris with hand-held nets and grabbers.
It was heartening to see representatives of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the South Florida Water Management District, as well as several professors from Florida Gulf Coast University who are planning to get their students involved in future cleanups.
Only 10 years ago, you could fish for snook in the creek. Now, stormwater runoff has turned this natural treasure into a polluted ditch, and during heavy rains, it gets flooded with oil and other pollutants where it ends up casting a film of grime across the creek and downstream to the yacht basin.
Special thanks to the FOB's themselves, under Mary Rawl, president of the Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association (RiverWatch); Al Abdo, director of the city's Public Works Department and his staff; Jerry Miller of the Greenwald Group; and Carol Schoeni, an FOB and a lead organizer. Also thanks to the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program for a grant; Environmental Consulting & Technology for funding the nets; and GAEA Guides, which brought kayaks.
by WARREN WRIGHT
Councilman, Ward 1, Fort Myers