Cleaning the oceans from Utah

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Volunteers will help clean up areas around Provo Canyon’s Bridal Veil Falls and the Jordan River Parkway as part of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup.

The Living Planet Aquarium in Sandy has teamed up again with Ocean Conservancy to get landlocked Utah involved in cleaning the oceans.

“The aquarium is proud to be participating in the International Coastal Cleanup again this year. It creates a unique opportunity for landlocked Utahns to make a difference in the welfare of our oceans,” said Melissa Bowers, volunteer and internship coordinator at The Living Planet Aquarium, in a news release.

Though Utah is 650 miles from the nearest coastline, Austin Prince, an intern at The Living Planet Aquarium, said that much of the ocean’s trash is carried there from inland streams and rivers.

Organizers have planned two more cleanups in addition to those already completed this month. On Sept. 22 volunteers met at Jordan River Parkway Trail, and on Sept. 29 they will meet at Bridal Veil Falls Trail, both at 8 a.m.

“There is a lot we can do here to help,” Prince said. “It makes the parks and places look better and helps the environment.”

If 20 volunteers show up it will take only two hours to clean up these areas, Prince said.

At the end of the cleanup, all the trash will be weighed and the statistics sent to Ocean Conservancy for a final total. Last year, Utahns found 5,000 pounds of trash, and organizers hope to surpass that this year.

In addition to the coastal cleanup, The Living Planet Aquarium tries to schedule a cleanup for each county each month. They can be reached at and . Volunteer opportunities are also available on The Living Planet’s website at thelivingplanet.com.

This year marks the 27th year of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. Each year, hundreds of countries clean up millions of miles of coastline in the movement for Trash Free Seas.

The 2011 campaign gathered almost 600,000 volunteers and picked up 9 million pounds of trash worldwide. Over the past 26 years, more than 153 million pounds of trash have been removed from 153 countries, according to an Ocean Conservancy news release.

“Last year, volunteers found enough food packaging to get takeout for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for the next 858 years,” David Pittenger, director of the Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program, said in a news release.

Along with the food items, enough clothing was found to outfit every audience member of the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, enough light bulbs to replace every light on the Eiffel Tower and almost $46,000 worth of recyclable beverage cans.

“Trash jeopardizes the health of our ocean, our economy and people. Sometimes there are uncontrollable events — like the Japan tsunami — that add to the larger problem of marine debris. That’s why it’s important to tackle what’s preventable,” Pittenger said.

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