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St. James City Boat Club helping keep local waters clean

By PAULETTE LeBLANC - | Mar 31, 2021

The Magee family, Todd, kneeling; Cheryl, Riley and Charlie, and Mickey Brelsford on the beach. Photo submitted by Yvonne Anderson


First Officer Peter Karas of the St. James City Boat Club wants everyone to be aware of the second annual Clean Water Week, which kicked off Saturday, March 20. According to Karas, about 35 people and roughly 15 boats were involved participated in a clean-up effort.

“We started our cleanup on the Sound out here and San Carlos Bay, then we hit Picnic Island, and the causeway islands and a couple of bay beach areas on Sanibel, the canals in St. James City, in Flamingo Bay and in kayaks along the south shore of Pine Island.”

Karas said there’s a great deal of trash to be found on Pelican Bay, due to currents moving in that direction. Overall, he said the Boat Club did very well at what they’d intended, including making a substantial donation to Calusa Waterkeeper.

“The club originally said they would give $250 from their funds,” said Karas, “and then my wife Julie had the idea to match it and challenge anyone else to match it also. We ended up raising over $3,600 for the Calusa Waterkeeper organization.”

One of the organization’s rangers was on Boat Club Commodore McFarland’s boat doing some water testing throughout San Carlos Bay, said Karas. The Florida Gulf Coast University Water School also joined the effort, along with Sanibel/Captiva experts educating on the monitoring of sea grass.

“It’s my intention, at some point, to try and make this a much bigger project,” said Karas of cleanup week. “I would love for it to be a statewide project. We choose this time of the year, because it’s the highest tourist time and we hope to get the word out and create awareness for people, whether they’re short-term vacationers, long-term vacationers or full-time residents. We’d love to get the word out that this is Clean Water Week, and you just have to do a little bit, you don’t have to do a lot. Just pick up a few pieces of trash — whatever you can do. If we all do a little, we’ll accomplish a lot.”

The difference from last year to this year is very noticeable, said Karas, reporting that the effort seems to have doubled in size, in addition to the sizeable donations.

“These are our waterways,” said Karas. “This is one of our best resources. Two of the biggest reasons people come to Florida is the weather and the water. I can’t control the weather, but I can sure help to do something about the water. Everyone should know about the wonderful things the club has been doing. If anybody’s out there and they see anything, they don’t need to be part of an organization to try and help clean up — just do whatever you can. We really appreciate it.”