Story Number: NNS140220-18Release Date: 2/20/2014 8:50:00 PM
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Derek A. Harkins, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West
SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors from the San Diego-area spent three days collecting trash from local beaches during a beach cleanup, Feb. 18-20.
The beach cleanup is an annual event that assembles volunteers from various commands in the area.
"We are part of the community," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Phillip Cowger, assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11. "Community service is a responsibility [of every Sailor], as an embodiment of our core values. It's a requirement for evaluations, but it's also important to do it for the right reasons."
The event is part of the Navy's partnership with the San Diego Coast Keepers and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Navy collaborates with the EPA in many ways, including the development of discharge standards for naval vessels and the assignment of acoustic flight zones that prevent disruption of wildlife by aircraft in sensitive areas.
"It's important for people to see the partnership between the Navy and the EPA as two organizations working together," said Katherine Weiler, Environmental Protection Specialist for EPA Region 9.
According to Tiffany Shepard, a wildlife biologist working at Naval Base Coronado, trash collects on beaches in a number of ways, including littering, boat debris and objects washing down river channels. These materials can endanger animals and infect soil with harmful substances.
The Navy and EPA log the amount of trash found and collected during beach cleanups using scorecards, which helps to curb threats to the environment.
According to Weiler, tracking the Sailors' trash collection by using scorecards gives the EPA useful information about the amount of trash accumulating and being recovered from beaches. This helps them follow the progress made in improving the quality of the shoreline ecosystem.
"[The EPA] commended us for our efforts and the number of volunteers we've had for this large scale cleanup every year," said Shepard.
During the beach cleanup, Sailors worked to improve the condition of their local environment while carrying on the Navy's partnership with environmental organizations.
"We are so appreciative of the Navy's partnership and their willingness to volunteer, clean beaches and learn a little more about steps that everyone can take to make a difference," said Weiler.
For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, visit www.navy.mil/local/pacensandiego/.