A local dog advocacy group sponsored by Point Isabel Dog Owners (PIDO) was recently awarded a grant to help remove toxic microplastics on Albany Beach, a mile south of Point Isabel.
PIDO has a history of more than 30 years of parks stewardship and off-leash activism. In 2014, it became the fiscal sponsor for Albany Landfill Dog Owners Group (ALDOG), which has a similar mission.
ALDOG advocates for responsible off-leash recreation on Albany Beach and plays an important role in keeping the beach clean. As a California Coastal Commission adopter of Albany Beach, it coordinates three cleanups every year, in collaboration with East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD) and others. Over the past four years, cleanup volunteers have removed more than 4,500 pounds of trash.
Now, thanks to a grant from the Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program (ACCWP), ALDOG plans to deep-clean the beach by sifting tiny microplastics out of the sand.
Plastics are well known to trap and poison birds and sea creatures. But many people don’t realize that as plastics break down into ever-smaller particles, they turn ocean waters into a noxious brew and can be responsible for fumes on hot sand and at beach bonfires.
Research has shown that Albany Beach has a high concentration of plastics, much of which washes in with the tide. A few years ago, ALDOG bought a special screen invented by Marc Ward of Sea Turtles Forever, a nonprofit in Oregon, to capture tiny plastic particles. (The screens build up a static charge, and microplastics cling to them and can then be dumped.) EBRPD bought screens, too, and ALDOG and EBRPD started talking about how to methodically restore Albany Beach to as near-pristine condition as possible.
In May, ALDOG was awarded a $5,000 ACCWP 2017 Community Stewardship Grant to facilitate that effort. ALDOG will use the grant to buy more static charge filtration screens and equipment, and to bring Marc Ward on site to supervise a one-day sifting of the beach using several screens operated in tandem by dozens of volunteers. The cleanup will serve as a hands-on workshop on beach restoration and removal of microplastics, and help build a network of volunteers who could restore other Bay Area beaches. It will also prep Albany Beach for the next phase of EBRPD’s Albany Beach Restoration and Public Access Project, during which tons of new sand will be added to the area.
The Sift the Sand event will be Sunday, October 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (October 15 rain date). To volunteer, email email@example.com or call 510-473-2626. To make a tax-deductible contribution to help with costs not covered by the ACCWP grant, visit www.aldog.org/aldog or mail to ALDOG, P.O. Box 6518, 1191 Solano Avenue, Albany, CA 94706.
PIDO is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. ALDOG is a project of PIDO and a California Coastal Commission adopter of Albany Beach.