Microplastic filtered from Manzanita Beaches

By Brad Mosher

Kate Eskew just calls herself a concerned citizen.
But the Portland resident has long and emotional ties to Manzanita and its beach.
Because of that, she started a volunteer-based clean-up drive several years ago.
Its goal?
To rid the beach of small pieces of plastic which can cause problems for man and animal alike, she explained Sunday.
“I organized this event and coordinated with Tillamook County Solid Waste, CartM, SOLVE and Sea Turtles Forever.
“We are using a special kind of technology that was developed by Marc Ward of Sea Turtles Forever to get microplastic off of the beach. Microplastic comes in from the ocean during the wintertime and makes landfall every year at the high tide mark,” she said.
The cleanup drive is supported by the local people and businesses, Eskew said. She is also able to get some of the vacationers to volunteer in the beach cleanup drive.

Local support
“The funds to bring Marc, his team and his tools down here come from local people and people who love this beach,” she explained.
“My family is from Manzanita and I grew up coming to this beach as a kid. I get kind of teary about this part. I have children now and I want them to love the beach too,” she said.
This year, the cleanup was expanded to four days, starting Saturday and finishing on Tuesday.
“We had about 30 volunteers in the first two days.”
Even Saturday’s heat wave didn’t stop the cleanup, she said.
“They cleaned a lot more beach than I expected. They went six hours … they went the whole day.”
The clean up volunteer crews followed areas designated by flags, she said. “The band (of debris) on Neahkahnie Beach is pretty wide. It is a much wider band than most beaches have. It is a high-density landfall beach as well.”
“Saturday, they (the volunteers) took out 123 pounds,” she said.

Big clean up
“This is a seven-mile beach. The goal is to someday get this (campaign) big enough to hit the entire beach,” she said.
This year was the first time local businesses donated lunches and that had an impact especially during Saturday’s heat wave, Eskew said.
“It helped keep people going. I think yesterday if they had to use their energy to walk into town, I don’t know if they would have had enough pluck to come back and do more. They were an intrepid group and were grateful to just be able to sit down and eat in the shade,” she said.
According to Eskew, the lunches came from different businesses each day.
“It’s come from Manzanita Fresh Foods, Manzanita Grocery & Deli, Bread and Ocean is Monday and The Bunkhouse will be providing lunch on Tuesday,” she explained Sunday afternoon.
She credited David McCall with the idea of providing lunch to the volunteers.
“He provided the screens and the shovels for this event. He also has been doing other beach cleanups along the Tillamook County coast.
“He raised the bar for me this year. He said they have been providing lunch at his cleanups. ‘I said Whaaaat?’”

Manzanita generous
To Eskew, the Manzanita community is a very generous one.
It took a little while for Eskew to make her idea of a beach cleanup a reality.
“It took a few years before I was able to bring it together.
“It has been slowly building over the years,” she added.
The cleanup has gotten some corporate assistance with different companies pledging to come out each year. “Our repeats from the very beginning has been New Seasons Market. Intel came one year. Wells Fargo was slated to come this year.
“Then, there are all these people who are on vacation just coming in. Part of it is building an awareness over time and having it (the event) be on people’s radar,” Eskew added.
She is thankful for the specially-designed screens the volunteers use to clean up the debris and microplastic.
“This filtration screen is special because it creates an electrostatic charge so we can get the smallest particles of plastic out of the sand,” she said.
“The plastic that is here is the plastic that floats. We get what we can and are doing what we can here at our own beach.”