SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas – A group of environmentally conscious folks is helping clean areas that others leave filthy with trash even though it takes time and money to do so.
Called RGV Fishing Area & Waterway Cleanups, the all-volunteer organization have been organizing their activity for the last five years.
They usually pick up places usually frequently used by fishing enthusiasts or by families on a weekend picnic outing.
To some people, the amount of trash left behind is upsetting while for others is seems to go without notice.
Regardless of that, the RGVFAWC take on the task to clean up what others don’t.
Among the places they select include are the beach north of South Padre Island, parts of Boca Chica Beach, around an overpass in San Benito, at the Port of Harlingen, on the outskirts of Port Isabel and around the Jaime Zapata Boat Ramp and the Gayman Bridge off Texas Highway 48.
Their latest campaign was to clean an area along the Port of Brownsville Ship Channel but their plan was canceled and rerouted to the two spots along the highway.
“I started the group because I got tired of fishing in dirty and nasty places,” said Richard Hitchcox, a founding member of the organization. “I used to go fishing with my son who kind of got me going with this.”
Four years later, the group has seven board members and has recruited scores of volunteers helping them out.
The volunteers are rewarded with raffle prizes, including guided fishing trips for two or three people.
The trips are donated by area guides that usually charge $300 or $400, or even more per trip.
Each person gets a ticket, is treated to lunch plus snacks and gets a trash bag, a pair of gloves, a vest and a grabber stick to pick up the trash.
So far, the cleanup campaign has reaped its benefit as more than 41,500 pounds of trash has been picked up in the 14 cleanups held since 2021.
On their last cleanup on Saturday, May 20, Norman Esquivel, the constable for Cameron County Precinct 1, became a volunteer.
Besides providing security with two patrol vehicles, Esquivel grabbed a trash bag and joined the volunteers.
“I just like to help out,” he said. “This is good for the people and for the environment.”
Carlos Salinas, who owns a bait and tackle shop in Brownsville, agreed.
“We are doing this for the community,” he said. “I can’t believe how much trash people leave behind.”
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