Volunteers participate in Sarasota Bay Watch cleanup

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LONGBOAT KEY, FLA. - A group of Sarasota Bay Watch volunteers spent Saturday morning picking up trash on Sister Keys.

“I like to help out the environment, it is a great cause and it feels good to volunteer and clean things up,” said volunteer Larry Frazer. He said bushwhacking through mangroves just to remove trash from the island was worth the trouble it takes in order to make a difference.

“I think if people were more aware, especially boaters because they tend to just not realize what they are doing, trash just gets thrown overboard, they are having fun and they don't need to do that so a little more awareness would probably help.”

Trash that ends up in the bay, especially plastics and old fishing line, can be hazardous to sea birds and marine life.

“I think we need to take care of the earth as much as possible,” said volunteer Carla Muggio.

Sister Keys are located on the north end of Longboat Key.

“It is the only island, actually the largest group of islands between Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay that are undeveloped,” said Rusty Chinnis.

Sarasota Bay Watch partnered with the Town of Longboat Key to help maintain the Sister Keys natural diversity in 2010. Before restoration efforts began on the keys in 2007, the islands were covered with Australian Pines that choked out native species. After a million dollar mitigation project the keys are now a flourishing native habitat.

“This year for the first time we had a small group that went inland and were removing the invasive plants,” said Sarasota Bay Watch president Larry Stults.

And with the continued hard work of citizen volunteers, the Sister Keys will continue to be a thriving natural habitat and marine environment.