City: Firework waste an issue for Watsonville’s beaches

(Volunteers recovered over 100 pounds of waste from Fourth of July at Palm Beach Thursday morning. Photo by Rachel Kippen)

WATSONVILLE—A cleanup at Watsonville’s Palm Beach was held Thursday morning in an effort to dispose of waste from the Fourth of July holiday.

Rachel Kippen, Environmental Projects Coordinator for the City of Watsonville’s Public Works Department, reported that four people showed up, plus herself, to lend a hand in the cleanup.

Despite their small numbers the group ended up gathering 100 pounds of waste off the beach in three hours. Most of it was pieces of fireworks and sparklers. They also found cardboard, an assortment of plastic and party favors such as cups and balloons.


A decorative headband was found tangled in a bed of washed up sea kelp at Palm Beach Thursday morning. Photo by Rachel Kippen.

Kippen said that July 5 brought on a high tide in the early morning, around 3:30 a.m. This caused most of the waste to get pulled out to sea before the cleanup crew made it to the beach, she said.

“I feel kind of like the Grinch Who Stole July 4th, but its getting to the point where we need to reconsider if people can handle the level of responsibility that comes with fireworks,” Kippen said.

Firework debris and sand castle toys were discovered in some snowy plover enclosure areas at Palm Beach, where there are nests with eggs yet to hatch, according to a State Park Ranger on scene. Snowy plovers are a federally protected species of bird which make many of Monterey Bay’s beachside dunes home.

Kippen explained how there are environmental laws in California for local governments to follow, but that they can only do so with the public’s support.

“Personally, I’ve always loved setting off fireworks,” Kippen said. “And it’s incredibly beneficial to our community for these non-profits to raise money each year selling them. But we still need to hold ourselves accountable for all that waste.”


This man lent a hand tidying up the shores of Palm Beach on the morning following Fourth of July celebrations. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

Beach cleanups, Kippen said, are more of a “last-ditch effort,” and that real change will only come when people’s attitudes and behaviors change.

“It would be so much better if people could just not litter in the first place,” she said. “It’s not that hard to take a little bit of responsibility.”

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