THIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Pawleys Island: Town plans coast-to-coast cleanup
By Charles Swenson
It’s taken a few years, but Pawleys Island will hold its first beach and river sweep on Saturday along with the 25th annual sweep sponsored by the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.
The island’s beach and creek get regular cleanups, but not at the same time and not always in sync with the statewide effort, which is actually part of an international program to gather data on coastal trash.
“It’s always just been the beach or the creek,” said Howard Ward, a long-time organizer of the creek sweeps. Those got started with a grant to the local Natural Resources Conservation Service to improve water quality in the Pawleys Creek watershed.
That grant has run out but Debbie Mann, the district conservationist, has stayed involved on her own, Ward said.
The beach sweep has been organized each year by Frank Johnson, a Hagley resident. Participants get trash bags and scorecards to record each item they collect.
“It’s a lot of fun collecting the data,” Johnson said. In that way, it isn’t so different from his day job as chief meteorologist for WBTW.
He usually gets 30 to 40 people. He was at the Pawleys Island Civic Association’s annual meeting earlier this month to recruit property owners for the sweep. Because there is no public access in the middle of the island, Johnson hopes that the owners will pitch in.
“It’s going to be much bigger this year,” he said.
Volunteers who monitor sea turtle nests on the island will take part. Mary Schneider, who coordinates the monitoring, said they usually pick up litter during their morning walks in search of nests. “But there is so much more to do,” she said.
The state Department of Natural Resources is a partner with Sea Grant in the sweep. Steve Pop, a local wildlife officer, will help the island-wide project by collecting trash from people who venture out into the creek. All the trash will end up in a roll-on, roll-off bin provided by Georgetown County and set up at the Nature Park.
“The town is trying to make this one big effort,” Ward said. “It’s something that needs to be done.”
The sweep will take place during a high tide, which should give wider access to teams in the creek. Anyone with a boat, kayak, canoe or paddleboard can participate. At the north end, Jimmy McCants will direct the effort from the Crocker Landing at Third Street. Tom Myers will organize the south end work from his dock, with boats launching from the Pritchard Street landing. Brian Henry will manage the midsection of the creek with boats leaving from the Pavilion Landing at the Nature Park.
Beach sweepers will also start out from the Nature Park.
It all gets under way at 9 a.m. and runs until noon.
“This is our environment, we need to protect it,” Ward said.
Murrells Inlet 2020 is also sponsoring sweeps. One will begin at the Crazy Sister Marina and cover the marshfront. The other will meet at K-Raes at Wacca Wache Marina and cover the river. Both begin at 8:45 a.m.
There are also a pair of sweeps at Huntington Beach State Park. A beach sweep starts from the park’s gift shop. A creek sweep of the south end of Murrells Inlet starts from the oyster landing off Highway 17. Both begin at 9 a.m.
For more about the beach and river sweeps, go online to scseagrant.org.