Cleaning Up the St. Joseph Bay in Kayaks - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Cleaning Up the St. Joseph Bay in Kayaks

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Spring cleaning often means it's time to get out your vacuum cleaners and dusters, but for one group of people in Gulf County, spring cleaning is a chance to take a kayak out on St. Joseph Bay.

Two businesses in Cape San Blas organize a cleanup effort every year, it's usually during this time of year to celebrate Earth Day and National River Cleanup Week, though they're cleaning the bay.  

"We get so many people here, when they're leaving, like today, people say to me, thanks so much for letting me do this, I say are you kidding, thanks for coming and doing it," said Dan VanVleet, who's lived on the St. Joseph Bay for more than 15 years. He and his wife own Happy Ours, a kayak rental business right on the bay. And each year, they co-sponsor a cleanup event.

VanVleet said, "it's just something where we can give back to the community and help keep the bay clean, this is our livelihood here and this is the cleanest bay in the United States as far as we are concerned and we'd like to keep it that way."

Two area companies, Happy Ours and Scallop Cove, offer their kayaks free in exchange for people to go out and collect trash during the annual St. Joseph Bay Cleanup and Kayak Festival. "We get a good turnout every year, enough people just to pick up this head of the bay, we pick something up every now and then but you'd be amazed by how little is under the water. You'd be amazed at how clean it is", added VanVleet.

But the year of Hurricane Dennis, that was a different story. "At that time there were docks and things that were floating loose and things that had come loose off that docks and when we weighed things in up here, we had over 600 pounds of garbage brought in that year."

Two of the participants traveled to Cape San Blas just for the event on Sunday. "I've been coming here for about 6 years and I love the community here and when I saw the event going on I just wanted to give back to the community that I love so much", said Atlanta resident Ally Heeley. These vacationers said clean up events are just more fun when you can do it in a kayak.

"Some of the areas out there you can only get to by kayak so you get to more areas and you clean up more of the stuff", said Adam Bruner. And they may be looking for more than just trash out there. VanVleet said, "we have some Geo cash out there we put some buoys out there, people can go out there and find those objects." Heeley added, "it was amazing, so much fun, I would gladly do it again next year.

Event organizers also give out awards for the most unusual item found and Sunday there were a few items in the running, including a large boat bumper.