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Adopt-a-Beach™ Kickoff Launches New Guide to Healthy Beaches

Everyone from casual beachgoers to boaters to shoreline property owners can play a role in improving Great Lakes shorelines as this year’s Adopt-a-Beach™ season kicks off April 20–May 3.

As part of the annual kickoff the Alliance is launching a new guide with tips on how to be a better beach steward –- at your favorite public beach, in your community or in your own back yard.

The spring kickoff is the perfect time to join a local Adopt-a-Beach™ event or start your own event, clearing trash from a local beach and adding to a growing regional database tracking potential sources of pollution on Great Lakes shorelines.

Beyond the scheduled events, “There are many low-cost or no-cost things people can do for their beaches,” said Jamie Cross, acting manager of the Alliance’s Adopt-a-Beach™ program.

The Alliance’s new downloadable “Healthy Beaches Action Guide: How You Can Help Your Great Lakes Shoreline,” explores ways that individuals and others can improve beach health.

Lyman Welch, Alliance Water Quality Program manager and co-author of the guide, said it gives practical advice about how to be a smart steward on and off the beach. “Dispose of any trash properly, pick up after your pets and ensure that small children take frequent bathroom breaks,” he said.

The guide, co-authored by Julie Kinzelman Ph.D., of Racine, Wis., also includes a section detailing steps shoreline property owners can take in and around the home to improve beach health on their property.

An update of the Alliance’s 2002 guide, “Healthy Beaches” breaks new ground by instructing beach stewards on identifying the sources of beach pollution problems and how to address them.

“The goal of our original guide was to get water quality testing and sampling – and we’ve passed that hurdle,” said Cross. “With Adopt-a-Beach™ itself, we’re now looking toward long-term solutions and monitoring beach health.”
To that end, the guide includes suggestions about how to:

* Minimize runoff from stormwater and fertilizer on private beaches and other property.
* Encourage communities to improve public notice for beach closings and causes.
* Stop local sewage overflows.
* Plant buffers along waterways and shorelines.
* Minimize agricultural impacts.
Now in its seventh year, the Alliance’s year-round Adopt-a-Beach™ program continues to grow, with more than 7,000 volunteers monitoring beaches on four out of five Great Lakes.

Adopters visit their chosen stretch of shoreline several times a year to pick up debris, record findings and monitor beach health conditions. The findings are entered into a database the Alliance uses to spot trends and educate the public about beach health and the need for policy changes to further protect Great Lakes shorelines.

This year the Alliance is launching a new and improved database that allows adopters to easily enter their beach health findings online.

Adopt-a-Beach™ has a track record of improving beaches and shorelines. In 2008 volunteers removed more than 30,000 pounds of trash from Great Lakes shorelines, cleaning more than 200 beach sites. (Click here to see a state-by-state breakdown of numbers and types of trash collected.)

The online version of the “Healthy Beaches” guide includes 10 pages of updated contacts for county health and parks departments, and links to online resources for further information.

Beach adoption is easy and is for everyone. Groups can e-mail the Alliance to sign up for their preferred beach online at

For more information:

Healthy Beaches Action Guide: How You Can Help Your Great Lakes Shoreline 

Press Release

Posted 4-15-09


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