Leave only your footprints

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rachelle Elsea
  • 325th FIghter Wing Public Affairs
More than 100 Tyndall members teamed together May 15 for an emergency beach clean-up, in preparation for the possibility of oil reaching the base's shore line.

"This beach clean-up is vital," said Diane Bateman, 325th Civil Engineer Squadron water programs manager. "Any man-made debris on the beach needs to be cleaned up now. If the oil comes to shore then everything has to be handled as hazardous waste. So, this way it will make everything a lot easier in the long run."

Many volunteers understood how important the clean-up was.

"Going out there to clean up the trash was not only to help keep our beaches from experiencing too much damage but, it was also to help the base by eliminating additional work, such as cataloging man-made products from being disposed of as hazardous waste," said Staff Sgt. Sarah Dallis, 325th Fighter Wing general law paralegal. "We all know how frustrating double work is."

Tyndall Air Force Base has approximately 18 miles of beaches. The clean-up ran for several hours.

Making up a large amount of the volunteers, were the Airey NCO Academy students.

"Some students went as far as Crooked Island and walked for over 2 hours picking up debris," said Master Sgt. Amy Justice, Airey NCO Academy flight instructor. "The weather was perfect; it was not a hard sell."

The camaraderie between volunteers was overwhelming.

"I attended the event as a member of the Society of American Military Engineers," said Master Sgt. Edward Quinn, Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency operations management career field manager. "Coming out with the community and working side by side with others who have similar interests was the highlight of the experience. The ecology and ecosystem of our planet is crucial to our survival."

The event was a huge success. The volunteers collected more than one ton of trash.

But, now it is more important than ever to keep the beach clean.

"There are no trash cans located on the beach," said Ms. Bateman. "When people are on the beach they need to make sure they take everything they came on the beach with, with them when they leave."

Trash clean-up is not only important to humans, but also to the extensive amount of wildlife who live on the beaches.

"Tyndall has one of the highest bird and turtle nesting areas because we are an undeveloped beach without lighting," said Ms. Bateman. "We, currently, are in nesting season through the end of June. It is really important to keep the beach trash-free, so the animals will have a place to lay their eggs."

A Tyndall beach clean-up is held at least semi-annually and keeping Tyndall beaches trash free is a daily requirement. However, it is especially important with the threat of oil affecting our shores.

For more photos of the beach clean-up click here.