The third official “Trash Armada” to clean up the restricted salt marsh area of the Ballona Wetlands is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, February 28th at the Ballona Salt Marsh.

The group of 12 volunteers in two rubber boats will collect trash that has inundated the wetlands due to rain, city drainage and litterbugs. The California Department of Fish and Game has been selective in allowing activity at this location between September and February, the only time when the endangered Ground Nesting Belding Savannah Sparrows are not nesting, according to the volunteer group.

Representatives of Friends of Ballona Wetlands say the organization has been protecting and restoring the Ballona Wetlands for over 30 years with the help of over 60,000 volunteers. The Friends of Ballona group has been working hand in hand with the California Coastal Conservancy and the Department of Fish and Game, which has authority over this state-owned ecological reserve.

Mike Swimmer, Friends board member, founded the Trash Armada after touring the wetlands at high tide and being astonished at the amount of trash floating around, washing up on the banks of the creeks.

“Trash in the wetlands flows right into the ocean, so not only are the wetlands disrupted but so is marine life in the ocean,” said Swimmer. “I think what really broke my heart and caused me to take immediate action was seeing a beautiful white egret picking around in the filthy trash looking for something to eat.”

Trash build-up is most apparent beginning in October and continuing through March ñ the rainy season, according to Friends of Ballona. Chip bags, water bottles, and Styrofoam cups are some of the culprits of this collection, the group says.

Graduate students from the engineering department at Loyola Marymount University have been working with the Friends of Ballona on a tide gate project in an effort to mitigate the trash problem.

During the Trash Armada collection, the teams will be clad in red “Armada” sweatshirts, wearing rubber gloves and boots while filling black trash bags.

To volunteer, Kelly Rose, volunteer director at (310) 739-8613.

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