marsh madness

Sharon Hindery, from left, Terry Trowbridge and Lea King-Badyna pick litter out of the marsh along U.S. 17 as part of Keep Golden Isles Beautiful’s Marsh Madness campaign.

Lea King-Badyna is not just talking trash when she says this year’s Marsh Madness cleanup campaign was off to the best start ever.

Then came sheltering in place, social distancing and other necessary precautions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting Keep Golden Isles Beautiful to cut short its plans for the seventh-annual event. But with the coast clearing, so to speak, KGIB aims to finish what it started, said King-Badyna, executive director of the nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a healthier natural environment in the Golden Isles.

The first of the last five events on the 2020 Marsh Madness schedule will take place at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Turtle River Bridge. King-Badyna is counting on the usual array of do-gooders and environmentally-conscious Golden Isles residents to volunteer for the effort, which will focus cleanup efforts on the bridge’s north side boat ramp.

KGIB is an affiliate of Keep Georgia Beautiful and Keep America Beautiful, and KAB COVID-19 protocols will be observed during all cleanups, she said. This includes disinfecting and washing the litter grabbers and safety vests between uses and providing plenty of gloves and hand sanitizer, something KGIB has always had on hand for such events.

“It’s a great way to engage in some physical activity, bond with family and friends, enjoy the great outdoors, breathe some fresh air and make a positive difference in your community,” King-Badyna said.

KGIB slated a whopping 21 cleanups this year, far more than in any of the previous six years. During its first 16 Marsh Madness events, some 183 folks contributed 276 volunteer hours to the effort. They hauled off a total of 10,158 pounds of trash. “That’s roughly five tons,” King-Badyna said. “And get this — we hauled 75 old tires out of the marsh.”

Last year’s Marsh Madness hauled in a little more than six tons of trash, including 42 old tires. “We’ve already almost doubled the number of tires removed over last year,” she said. “And we will most likely increase the total tonnage removed after these next five cleanups.”

The next scheduled Marsh Madness cleanup will begin at 9 a.m. under the south side of the Sidney Lanier Bridge. Bags, gloves, litter grabbers and water will be provided at all cleanups. It is recommended that volunteers wear closed-toe shoes and clothes that can get muddy. Bring sunscreen and bug spray also.

“We really need volunteer help to complete our remaining five marsh madness cleanups,” King-Badyna said. “This has been our most expansive Marsh Madness effort to date, and a large volunteer turnout is crucial to making the biggest possible positive impact in removing trash from this valuable natural resource.”

The marsh and surrounding waterways become an unintended receptacle for all trash that finds its way into any of the hundreds of storm drains throughout Glynn County, King-Badyna said. “There are 230 storm drain outfalls in our community, and those lead directly to the marshes, the rivers and the ocean,” she said. “Whatever blows into a storm drain pops out right into our environment.”

The remaining Marsh Madness schedule includes: June 9, Fancy Bluff Park; June 11, the natural area around the Highway 99 boat ramp; and June 19, the natural area around the U.S. Highway 17 boat ramp near the Camden County line. Volunteers are asked to arrive a few minutes early to check in.

Marsh Madness is sponsored by Georgia-Pacific Brunswick Cellulose Mill. A cleanup location map can be found at kgib.org. For more information, email KGI at info.kbgib@gmailcom, or call 912-279-1490.

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