The volunteers blanketed the Egery Flats area, which is in Aransas County, from the Copano Bay bridge to the high ground.
The boat ramp in Refugio County was also targeted. The litter and dumping along this short stretch of highway and wetlands has been a source of disgust and irritation to anyone who passes through. But complaints to officials in Aransas County and TxDOT have brought only disavowals of responsibility.
The narrow strip of land between the highway and the wetlands is a popular spot for fishing, crabbing, bait netting and, in season, duck hunting. On a weekend, there might be 30 or more people strung out along this strip with cars whizzing by at 60 mph only a few feet away.
Egery Flats is apparently in a bureaucratic limbo between Aransas County, TxDOT, the Texas General Land Office and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Trash barrels are placed only at the boat ramp in Refugio County, which are emptied by Refugio County. The litter has been accumulating in Aransas County for perhaps a decade.
This stalemate became too much for Lillian Gasca, a Bayside resident. She began to contact county, state and national officials, including Gov. Rick Perry.
Encountering more bureaucratic dithering, Gasca decided to organize her own grass roots cleanup of the area. She did manage to get an on-site interview with the ABC-affiliate TV station KIII in Corpus Christi. And she began to enlist local individuals and groups as sponsors and volunteers.
These included the Master Naturalist, the Rockport Aquarium volunteers and the Texas Marine Science Institute, plus other community collaborators. These efforts resulted in 52 adult and 15 youth volunteers assembling at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, at the Egery Marina.
Since this was the opening day of duck hunting season, the volunteers were even joined by several of the duck hunters.The cleanup produced a huge pile of fishing litter and dumped trash. More than a 100 garbage bags were filled with over 1,000 glass and plastic bottles.
Twenty seven tires were pulled from the wet lands, as well as a 10 ft. by 12 ft. carpet, a toilet tank, 10 propane tanks and the remains of a porta potty. Most of the small litter was the debris from fishing and hunting activities, including several urine-filled plastic bottles with caps and a dozen dirty diapers. Besides lacking trash barrels, the area also lacks any sanitary facilities.
As successful as this cleanup effort was, it is unclear what will change. A visit to the site on Monday found more plastic and paper litter on the ground and caught in the sea grass as a result of one weekend’s activities.
But a number of the volunteer groups are energized now to end this problem at Egery Flats. Officials and politicians can expect to hear more from them and some officials may even decide to become part of a solution, rather than part of the problem.