23rd Annual Billy Sandifer Big Shell Cleanup Call for Volunteers Saturday February 24th, 2018!
The 23rd Billy Sandifer Big Shell Beach Cleanup will be held on the Padre Island National Seashore on Saturday, the 24th of February, 2018. Volunteers will meet at the Malaquite Pavilion parking lot and the event will begin at 8:00 a. m. Admission to the park will be waived for all volunteers. The speed limit changes from 25mph to 15 mph on the beach on March the 1st so we have the event on the last Saturday of February. All volunteers will be returned to the pavilion by 2 p. m. 4 wheel drive vehicles with operators are the backbone of the event; however those with 2 wheel drive vehicles are most welcome and can leave their vehicles at the pavilion and will be transported down the beach as space becomes available in 4 wheel drive vehicles. If you have a 4 wheel drive but are alone you are most welcome as others without 4 wheel drive vehicles can catch a ride with you into and out of the work area. Trailers for hauling trash are much needed but need to be in good condition due to the rough terrain covered. Dress appropriately for the weather conditions as the event has to date taken place in all kinds of weather conditions. Long trousers, long sleeved shirts, a windbreaker or slicker top, suitable head wear and a good, sturdy pair of work shoes are recommended. Food will be available at the Malaquite pavilion at the conclusion of the event and iced water and lite snacks will be available in the work area but feel free to bring something to eat during the event if you feel it necessary. Event t shirts will be given to all volunteers.
I started the event in 1995. This year’s event will be the 23rd. carried out since then. 7,350 volunteers have picked up 2 million 556 thousand pounds of trash. Last year we had record attendance with 750 volunteers showing up and removing 50 tons of trash from 18 miles of beach front. The event is a bit different from year depending on tide levels, driving conditions and how many volunteers are available to pick up trash. Due to high tidal conditions last year we were not able to go as far South on the beach front as we normally do. This year; IF possible we how to do the exact opposite and take the event farther South than it has ever been able to go before. So, our goal is to attempt to clean up the beach from the 40 to 20 mile posts. We have never attempted a cleanup South of the 31 mile beach before so we are excited about the prospects.
In 2008, Mr. Steven Naylor, of Round Rock, TX. and I started a non-profit 501 c3 group named "The Friends of Padre" to ensure the continuation of the cleanup in years to come. Friends of Padre is involved in several other cleanups on Padre Island and supportive of other conservation organizations working on Padre Island as well as being responsible for the Big Shell Beach Cleanup. The board members are a handpicked number of conservation minded and knowledgeable island users. Friends of Padre is also looking for new board members. We need folks that are willing to jump in and help with the footwork, who are dedicated to the conservation and well being of the island and who live locally. We’ve tried out of town board members and although they were great folks it proved too much of a hardship for them to continuously travel back and forth as situations arose that required their presence. More information on this group is available on their web site at FriendsofPadre.com. Last year we had a record number of 750 volunteers at the event and as you can imagine its organization has become much more time consuming and complex to manage and the Friends of Padre makes it possible to handle the job efficiently. Last year we partnered with a recycling company and the results were inspiring. Unfortunately they are not available to continue this year and we have found no other recycling company to work with.
I chose the Big Shell portion of the beachfront for this event due to a convergence of 2 ocean currents that meet in that area and amass trash in the area. It's also typically some of the worst driving on the beach so there is never a dull moment. It's a wonderful place and we do this event so that it will continue to be wonderful for your children and your grandchildren. It is a wonderful way for parents to teach their children the importance and the responsibility for caring for the great outdoors.
Mr. Leon McNinch and the Ruth Parr Sparks Foundation of Alice, TX. has become by far the biggest supporter of the Friends of Padre and literally make it possible for the organization to continue its work. Curtis Mai and Sharkathon are major supporters of the Big Shell Beach Cleanup. David Sikes, the outdoor writer for the Corpus Christi Caller newspaper, our local CCA chapter, Michael Laskowski Sr. and Jr. of Trac-Work Inc. Railroad Maintenance and Rehabilitation offices in San Antonio and Scott and Brian McKinsey remain treasured by and extremely important to the event. Brian McKinsey is our vehicle trouble shooter for the event and in addition; bless his heart, he purchased and donated 20 ice chests and water to the event. There are so many more that I haven't room to mention so I’ll just thank you and say you know who you are and we do too. Won't you join us in this annual Texas tradition on 24 February, 2018?
The primary function of Friends of Padre is to fund and organize the annual Billy Sandifer Big Shell Beach Cleanup in perpetuity. Beginning in 1995, the Big Shell Beach Cleanup occurs once a year in the Big Shell portion of the Padre Island National Seashore (PINS). Each year, hundreds of volunteers dedicate a Saturday to removing trash from this 10-mile stretch of beach. Since its inception, over 7350 volunteers have removed 2,556,000 pounds of trash from this remote and wild stretch of 4 Wheel Drive Only beach.