Marine Debris Removal in Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula

Broken white Styrofoam packing, refrigeration insulation, and other debris o0n a beach.

The Grassroots Garbage Gang is working with local volunteers to keep seven miles of Washington state coastline clean and free of debris.

Type of Project: Removal

Region: Pacific Northwest

Project Dates: July 2019 - September 2022

Who is involved?
With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program and National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, the GrassRoots Garbage Gang is removing marine debris along the Long Beach Peninsula of Washington through coordinated volunteer efforts.

What is the project and why is it important?
During the winter months, the Long Beach Peninsula of Washington accumulates large amounts of marine debris that can come from local sources and from places far across the Pacific Ocean. The debris found here includes plastic debris, such as bottles, foam food containers, and balloons, as well as discarded or lost fishing gear, and debris from container ship spills. The debris can interfere with the beach nesting of the endangered Snowy Plover. Birds often mistake or confuse plastic debris with their food sources and ingest these harmful items. Winds can also bury the debris in the dunes until years later when it is uncovered by tides and waves. Removing debris from this area as soon as possible reduces these impacts, as well as potential impacts to the nearby Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

This project focuses on small scale marine debris removal efforts and volunteer support. The GrassRoots Garbage Gang and volunteers conduct weekly beach cleanups, which includes the collection and disposal of debris left at beach access sites along the Long Beach Peninsula. The GrassRoots Garbage Gang is uniquely positioned to carry out this cleanup effort, having led marine debris removal activities for over a decade at this location. They have extensive knowledge of the local marine debris issues and valuable connections to marine debris partners in the state in the Pacific Northwest region. While debris amounts vary by year depending on ocean currents, winds, tides, and spill events the GrassRoots Garbage Gang removes more than 17,500 pounds of debris every year from the Long Beach Peninsula. 

For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.