SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Saturday, Sept. 16, marks International Coastal Cleanup Day, a global initiative aimed at improving and restoring coastal habitats. While it might sound strange to celebrate this day in a landlocked state like Utah, the local community is gearing up to make a significant impact on the environment. Local organizations, led by Friends of Great Salt Lake, are teaming up to care for Utah’s Inland Sea.

Katie Newburn, the Education and Outreach Director of Friends of GSL, shares insights into this event. “International Coastal Cleanup is an effort that was started by an organization called the Ocean Conservancy that brings volunteers out from all across the world to improve and restore coastal habitats. And Friends of Great Salt Lake has been Utah’s leading organizer for this event since 2014. And we bring volunteers out to help improve our inland sea, Great Salt Lake,” Newburn said.

The Great Salt Lake, often overlooked by its coastal counterparts, plays a vital role in preserving wildlife. It provides critical wetland and upland habitat for up to 12 million migratory birds. “We really are part of this greater hemispheric pathway that we can play a role in improving for all of that wildlife,” Newburn emphasizes.

In 2022, dedicated volunteers removed over 4,000 pounds of trash and debris from the lake’s shores. This year, you have the opportunity to make a difference. You can join the cleanup effort on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. “It’s a great way to spend time at the lake, give back to this ecosystem that really needs our help, and get dirty,” Newburn says with enthusiasm. “It’s gratifying to go and see the impact that we can make when we come together.”

For those planning to participate, Newburn offers some practical advice: “Make sure to wear shoes that can handle a little mud and sand. We’ll provide volunteers with gloves and trash bags. But we also encourage folks to bring any other supplies that will help them stay comfortable. Trash grabbers are handy. We’ve got poachers. But you know, hands, gloved hands are pretty good for all of that too.”

In addition to the South Shore cleanup at the Great Salt Lake, a group of volunteers will also be meeting at Bountiful Pond to clean up that area. It’s a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the environment and connect with nature.