Navy personnel worked alongside members of the Jefferson and Kitsap County Beachwatchers to clean Naval Magazine (NAVMAG) Indian Island beaches and learn about the base’s pristine shoreline ecology May 4 in honor of Earth Day.
“We try very hard to preserve the natural beauty of our base and although we don’t litter on base, trash does wash up onto our shores from elsewhere,” said Cmdr. Michael Yesunas, commanding officer of NAVMAG Indian Island. “Coming together in the spirit of Earth Day to pick up this trash is important and certainly rewarding. We are thankful that the Beachwatchers decided they wanted to join us this year.”
More than 40 Beachwatcher members from Washington State University’s Jefferson and Kitsap County Extensions volunteered to participate in the event. NAVMAG Indian Island environmental program managers Bill Kalina and Shaleen Kessler, along with Yesunas, kicked off the event at 10:00 a.m. with a short discussion about the history and mission of the Navy base.
Kalina said that while every day is Earth Day in the Pacific Northwest, it is the day that Navy personnel take even greater care of the environment. The Beachwatchers and employees split up into two groups – one to walk the shoreline on the West side and one on the East. As the groups picked up trash along the beaches, Kalina and Kessler shared information about the local ecology and the various projects completed on base to restore and protect the base’s natural habitats.
“For a number of years, we have had someone from Indian Island come and speak to our group about their environmental program, but this is a great opportunity for the Beachwatchers to see this base that’s basically right in our backyard,” said Cheryl Lowe, Jefferson County Beachwatchers coordinator.
Items collected during the beach clean-up included a plastic tarp, pieces of wood and metal, Styrofoam, and pieces of plastic and glass bottles. Some of the waste picked up will be separated into bins to be recycled later through Navy recycling programs.
“We pick up trash on beaches all the time, so this is just a neat opportunity to get to do it on a base we otherwise wouldn’t get to see,” said Kitsap County Beachwatcher Missy Meadows.
Fellow Kitsap County Beachwatcher Sheri Kailey added, “I don’t walk a beach without having a bag to pick stuff up and these are really nice beaches to walk. I even found two big agates!”
After the beach clean-up was finished, Kalina and Kessler took the beachwatchers on a quick walking tour of specific spots on Indian Island to see some of the base’s natural and cultural resources that weren’t visible from the shorelines.
Lowe said, “Our Beachwatcher program trains volunteers on environmental stewardship. We are focused on beaches and shorelines, so this event was a perfect match.”