EXTENSION CONNECTION: Let's talk trash, how to prevent it from entering our watersheds

Published: Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 02:00 AM.

What do fishing line, plastic bottles, balloons, plastic bags, food packaging and baby diapers have in common?

They are all types of man-made objects found in our local waterways and become marine debris.

Marine debris is man-made waste that somehow makes it into a waterway. Once it travels through the currents, it can distribute worldwide. Marine debris is considered one of the world’s most widespread pollution problems.

As spring takes hold and warmer days creep in, locals and visitors flock to our outdoor areas — like local rivers, lakes, beaches, Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico — for adventure and fun.

These areas are economically and ecologically important to all the Panhandle's surrounding areas. They are part of a watershed, the area in which all water flows into a common area.

Every water body and wetland has an associated watershed, whether it is a small backyard pond or a large bay. Everything that occurs within this area directly determines that water body's health. Understanding this is crucial to creating a healthier landscape that we all work to create, conserve and protect.

Waterway debris can harm animals and post a health risk for humans. The risk of broken glass, rusty hooks and entanglement can harm health and enjoyment of these areas. Items such as ropes, bags, nets and other debris can wrap around boat propellers, clog intakes and create costly damage and safety hazards.

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