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Volunteers, particularly those with small boats, are sought to pick trash from the Cross Bayou shoreline.

By JULIANNE WU

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 24, 2000


SEMINOLE -- If you're a boater, the Pinellas County Environmental Management Department could use your help Saturday for the first organized cleanup of Cross Bayou.

"We are particularly looking for people with small watercraft to volunteer for this cleanup," said Angela Young, county environmental specialist. "Some of the areas along the banks of the bayou are not accessible any other way."

Young said there is another reason for seeking out people who love the water: "In light of recent publicity about Cross Bayou, we are trying to increase awareness about it as a possible canoe and kayak trail in the future. Also, the Cross Bayou will be included in the next watershed management plan due out sometime in the fall."

Registration for canoeists and kayakers begins at 8 a.m. at the Cajun Cafe on the Bayou, 8285 Park Blvd., Seminole. It is near Wagon Wheel Flea Market.

Those with motorboats can register and launch from Veteran's Memorial Park, 9600 Bay Pines Blvd., just west of the VA Medical Center at Bay Pines.

A limited number of rentals are available from Cross Bayou Canoe Rental, near the Cajun Cafe. Call 548-1700. Cross Bayou Canal stretches from Old Tampa Bay on the north to Boca Ciega Bay on the south. The canal originally was dug in 1916 to help drain Pinellas County's midsection.

Over the years, the wetlands gave way to farms, which in turn, have been replaced by strip malls, mobile home parks and subdivisions.

Today, part of the bayou is a web of tangled branches and other spots contain ankle-deep muck. Also, a lot of trash has found its way to the bayou's banks, Young said.

Saturday's volunteer crew will be issued maps, trash bags, drinking water and a cleanup record data card.

"Any trash the volunteers can't reach will be noted on the data cards," said Tim Closterman of Pinellas County's volunteer services department. This cleanup activity is also endorsed by the Pinellas County Millennium Celebration Committee.

"This cleanup is a great idea," said Joe Marchese, canoe rental manager. "It's something we try to promote whenever we rent someone a canoe. We always ask people to pick up any trash if they see some. "I'm a fisherman and I love this area," he continued. "It's so beautiful."

Dumpsters will be at the boat launch sites, Closterman said.

All volunteers will be required to wear life jackets or have other approved flotation devices with them. Also, participants are urged to wear comfortable clothes and shoes and bring a hat and sunscreen.

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