PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) — Over a dozen people rolled up their sleeves and picked up trash at St. Joseph State Park Sunday morning.
To commemorate National Public Lands Day, Port Saint Joe locals gathered bright and early to clean up the state park.
Established in 1994, National Public Lands Day is the celebration of connecting people back to nature.
At T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park they too decided to partake in the celebration by collecting garbage.
21 people showed up to pick up trash from the nearly 2000 acres of land.
“Well, I came to help out the friends of Saint Joseph Peninsula. Clean up the trash and clean up the area. I love nature. And on the weekends, I’m either hiking or kayaking, and it really bothers me to see trash everywhere,” said Port St. Joe resident Alison Schuler.
For many folks who attended the event, this was their first time participating. However, even when she’s not doing events like this, she does it in her spare time as well.
“So any time something like this comes up as a group, I participate. And while I’m out on my own, I pick up trash as well,” said Schuler.
Plastic can take anywhere from 20 to 500 years to break down. Nearly all the items that were found during the event were primarily plastic.
“A lot of vape containers plastic caps, pins, a lot of just plastic bags, garbage bags, things that just could be very harmful and people could be just really mindful about what they leave at the beach,” Mexico Beach resident Vicki Rountree.
Besides keeping the beaches clean, most people are doing it to preserve wildlife.
“It’s a beautiful day at the beach, and we want to keep it as pristine as possible. We have a lot of nesting birds, turtles, and things. And of course, the sea life,” said Rountree.
Trash can be extremely harmful to animals, so some people suggest carrying an extra trash bag on you when out in nature.
“It’s important because some of the items like rope or plastic can entangle some of the wildlife and they suffer and it’s just inhumane. So, I would always suggest to always have a trash bag with you and to keep your trash secure,” said Schuler.
They hold these clean-ups biannually and Saint Joseph State Park plans on holding another clean-up day on Sunday, Feb. 11 next year.