Galveston beaches getting cleaner

HOUSTON The city spends $3 million a year to clean and maintain the beach.

Recent visitors have been pleasantly surprised.

For Rene Rodriguez, a family day at Galveston beach means sun, surf and sand.

"I like it," he said. "I want to stay here all day, and I don't want to leave."

But several years ago, his impression of Galveston was not so positive. "I can remember a time when [the beaches] weren't quite so clean," Rodriguez said.

If Mario Rabago of the Park Board of Trustees has his way, those not so clean days will soon be forgotten.

"It's a very challenging job," he said. "We do all we can to keep it clean."

Rabago manages the crews that clean and maintain nearly all of the beaches on Galveston Island. They start before dawn and work into the early afternoon.

"We're doing everything from litter, sea weed, even some sand projects," Rabago said.

For years, oil spills and careless boaters off the Gulf Coast plagued Galveston beaches. The Galveston Parks Board officials consider those days over.

"The years of tar balls on the beach front are gone," Lou Muller of the Park Board of Trustees said.

The endless supply of seaweed, however, remains a challenge.

Even though it is raked away in the morning, seaweed washes up on the beach all day. Still, it is an important part of the beach ecology, because within the seaweed are all kinds of crustaceans and shells, and that is food for seagulls.

Beaches cannot stay in good condition without help from visitors. The best thing you can do when you visit the beach is to clean up your trash!

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