Miami-Dade Police Department helped remove over a ton of trash from the Julia Tuttle Causeway area on Earth Day
It is one of the most scenic vantage points of Biscayne Bay in all of Miami, but the strip of green space that runs along the Julia Tuttle Causeway is also a place where litter abounds, some of it arriving by way of storm drains, some floating in from as far away as the Caribbean, and some of it tossed by people who visit the thin strip of beach that is a popular fishing spot and picnic area.
On Earth Day, April 22, 2022, approximately 200 members of the Miami-Dade Police Department and about a dozen youth enrolled in the Department’s Explorers Program, and the Youth Outreach Unit Program, picked up over a ton, 2,000 pounds of trash from a half-mile stretch of beach, mangroves, and grassy area. They used trash picking extensions, buckets, large burlap bags, and all-terrain vehicles. The participants were divided into three teams and the cleanup took approximately four hours.
The event was a collaboration with Local 10 News, with its Reporter Louis Aguirre, and with VolunteerCleanup.org, a Miami-based, non-profit environmental conservation organization. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, County Commissioners Danielle Cohen Higgins (District 8), and Eileen Higgins (District 5), and the County’s first Chief Bay Officer, Irela Bague, also participated.
Interim Director George A. Perez said the Department is dedicated to keeping the region trash-free. This Earth Day marked the 52nd anniversary of the international event, which promotes environmental protection worldwide.
“In reality, the Miami-Dade Police Department recognizes that Earth Day is every single day, and we have a shared responsibility to keep our bay and our environment clean and free of garbage and clear of debris in the water because it really chokes out environmental marine life,” Director Perez said.
The isolation that millions of people endured as a result of the pandemic increased awareness of the importance of parks and waterways and other open spaces. There was a boom in boating as well, Director Perez said. “We saw the benefits of being out there with the marine life, being out there in the water, the peace and tranquility that it really brought us as families and as a community, but it also showed us the opportunity for us to do our part to make sure that we are keeping our bay clean and clear of debris,” he said.
Officers with the Department’s Illegal Dumping Unit participated in the Earth Day cleanup. Lieutenant Ernesto Rodriguez Sr., who leads that unit, said its important that the public is educated on the devastating effects that trash has on marine life, and on the quality of our drinking water.
“I have seen an increase in dumping and trash due to construction and the influx of people to the area recently,” Lieutenant Rodriguez said. “We have seen cars dumped in waterways, and the chemicals that come out can affect the water table, which is crucial for our farming community. Everyone should do their part to keep this beautiful area trash-free because we are impacted by it, and future generations will be impacted.”
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