It's springtime and you are anxious to get outside and enjoy your time on a nearby waterway. Where will you decide to go? And what do you want to do? What about getting on board the movement towards preserving your local ecosystem by keeping it clean? What if we were not allowed to swim in our longtime local waterway because it was now polluted? The fear is real and the future is in our hands amidst people like Ian Smith, Linda McCoy and Tom Carter who have focused their efforts towards trash removal.
First Waves, an organization started by Boarders Mag contributor Ian Smith in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is doing just that. With a focus on providing standup paddleboarding and river surfing experiences to underserved youth, First Waves is taking a new approach to conserving waterways in the short and long-term. By engaging the youth population in these exciting recreational opportunities, they are able to develop an understanding of why it is important to protect our waterways. In addition to learning things like whitewater paddleboarding, participants receive an intensive education in the art of filmmaking and watershed awareness. First Waves’ mission is to provide the community’s youth with a love and appreciation for the outdoors while arming them with a means of documenting their experience to inspire and educate others.
With partners like Paddle Without Pollution, a stewardship organization that specializes in cleanups using only non-motorized craft, the students get to play a key role in the immediate improvement of waterways near their homes. If cleaning up trash in the river doesn’t sound like fun to you, try extracting a shopping cart, loading it onto your paddleboard, and ferrying it out to the scrap yard like a gondolier on a romantic night in Venice (hopefully without the singing). The point is, it is fun and makes an immediate difference.
Keep Austin Beautiful
The most important part is that trash is being cleaned up and results are being made and that is exactly what Linda McCoy and her crew of Austin Standup Paddleboarders seek to do each year on Lake Austin and Ladybird Lake. According to Linda (also one of Texas Top Paddlers), "The amount of trash ending up in our waterways is out of control. It may seem like an insurmountable problem, but every little bit helps. In 2014, Keep Austin Beautiful organized 22,000 volunteers who contributed a total of 48,310 service hours! Those volunteers collected 130 tons of trash and diverted 19 tons of recycling from landfills IN ONE YEAR! Our ASUP Cleanups average about 22 full bags of trash per event, so 132 bags per year. At an average of 20 pounds per bag, that’s a little more than a TON OF TRASH!"
Keep Tahoe Blue
Then there are some locals like Tom Carter from Lake Tahoe who take it upon themselves to clean up trash as a daily routine. If you see a piece of trash anywhere, pick it up, but what about bigger pieces of trash that have sunk to the bottom of Lake Tahoe? This has been a goal of local waterman, Tom Carter, who, year after year, dives his way to trash freedom.
"The goal is for people to see nature without a bump, without our marks. People don't intentionally throw things into Lake Tahoe. But if we all pick up a piece of junk, of trash, the beauty shines through- people need to see uninterrupted nature. It is liberating and peaceful. Little things make a difference and we all need to know we can do something good for the planet, for everyone. From here forward I will continue to pull and collect trash both in and on the shores of the Lake. I'd like to create some "art" out of some unique pieces and someday have an auction, to raise some money to finance more cleanups at Lake Tahoe. I would like to thank everyone along the way who was enthusiastic and encouraging."
Stay Surfing without Zebra Mussels
According to MaryKate Wood, President of Wake WorX, "The spread of Aquatic Invasive Species is an enormous issue for our country and the environment. Since their arrival (both Quagga and Zebra Mussels) in 1987 in the Great Lakes, the US Government has spent over $5 Billion in prevention and containment efforts. Unfortunately, boaters are the largest transporters of AIS, both via ballast tanks and live bait wells. Ballast tanks and bags are used to make wakesurfing possible when 100's of gallons of lake water are pumpted in/out to ballast tanks and in 'positive or infested lakes' microscopic mussel larvae, called 'velligers,' travel unseen in the water and enter the ballast tanks. If the water is not filtered with the Mussel Mast-R the infected water can be transported to other lakes and waterways. Additionally, even when tanks/bags are emptied, not all of the water is dispelled when they are emptied."
The Solution: Education + Awareness + More contamination stations + Mussel Mast-R
Mussel Mast-R: The AIS Ballast Filter Systems are water filtration units that installed in-line, one for each tank, after the seacock and before the pump so they filter the water going into the tanks thus keeping the Quagga and Zebra Mussel larvae out. Additionally, the filters keep out water fleas, Asian clams, New Zealand Mud Snails, Eurasian Water Milfoil, Daphnia and Conepods.
Centurion Boats was the first to offer Aquatic Invasive Species Ballast Filter System. Centurion spent months and a collective effort promoting and educating boaters on the importance of AIS prevention efforts. Clean, drain, dry and filter your boats! Today the Mussel Mast-R is starting to be adopted by other boat companies and there are "after-market and retro-fittable kits at certified boat dealerships" according to MaryKate. In 2014 Wake WorX won the 2014 WSIA Innovative Product of the Year as well as the 2015 Miami International Boat Show Environmental Award.