LAGUNA VISTA — In conjunction with National Public Lands Day, the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is seeking volunteers for an annual cleanup of the popular Bahia Grande Unit fishing area between Port Isabel and Brownsville.
Volunteers will meet at the pulloff on State Highway 48, five miles south of State Highway 100 in Port Isabel, and work from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. to collect and bag litter at the site.
“We generally go from the channel between the road and the shoreline from the channel as far back as we can get to the Port Isabel side,” said Marion Mason, lead ranger at Laguna Atascosa. “We kind of stage ourselves there in that little paved parking lot.”
The pulloff on State Highway 48 is a very popular fishing area that is often busy with anglers even on weekdays. Even though there are litter barrels at the site, there’s plenty of trash not in the cans, too.
“We have some great volunteers who are trying to do things on their own” to keep the area clean, said Boyd Blihovde, the refuge manager. “Ethical fishermen and fisherwomen, who are trying to help, but it’s just too much.”
This will be the third year for the volunteer cleanup effort at Bahia Grande, and Mason said participation has gone up each year from 15 volunteers in 2015 to 33 last year.
“This year already I suspect we’re going to have even more because I have found some other venues to recruit volunteers,” Mason said. “For instance UTRGV has a portal where you can list activities like this and you can make students aware of things like this.”
Mason said 10 University of Texas Rio Grande Valley students have signed up to participate in the cleanup.
Last week, the trash along the highway near the parking lot to the fishing area seemed to increase the farther north one went.
Part of the issue is, given the prevailing winds out of the southeast, plastic and paper bags are pushed up against the fence which runs along the roadway and there they stay. There also are abandoned tires littering the shoulder of the highway.
IF YOU GO
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 30, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.
WHERE: Meet at pulloff on State Highway 48, five miles south of State Highway 100 in Port Isabel
INFO: Bags and drinking water provided to refill your bottles
Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes or boots
Volunteers under 18 must be accompanied by adult
Hashtag is #NPLD
For more information, call 956-244-2019