VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE -- Vandenberg Space Force Base is home to multiple beaches with a wide variety of wildlife, plant life and beautiful scenery. With these beaches comes the environmental responsibility to keep them clean and safe not only for the public, but for the planet as well.

Staff Sgt. Lacey Dixon, 30th Security Forces Squadron NCOIC of the Visitor Control Center, recently held one of the many beach cleanups Vandenberg members participate in to keep our beaches and the life within them safe.

“We try to do a cleanup once per quarter and get as many volunteers as possible,” said Dixon.

The beach cleanup consists of volunteers coming together to pick up litter that can harm animals or the environment over time. Volunteers split up to different parts of the beach and gather trash into eco-friendly bags to properly dispose of it, bettering the beach environment for people and animals alike.

“We’ve been doing this for about 12 years now,” said Dixon. “We have people from all over the base come out for these cleanups.”

The average volunteer turnout for beach cleanups is approximately 15-20 people. As more people sign up to come volunteer, the cleaner the beaches get and the less pollution there is in the local environment.

Without people volunteering their time to better the beaches, more than just the environment would be in danger.

“We’re here making a difference not only for the environment, but for the marine life,” said Airman 1st Class Mattie Velez, 30th SFS Visitor Control Center technician.

According to a study done by the Ocean Conservancy organization, approximately 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in our oceans every year. This amount poses a huge threat to life in the ocean as well as on land, as litter can wash onto shore and be accidentally consumed by animals. Quarterly beach cleanups are minimizing this threat, one piece of trash at a time.

“I volunteered because I wanted to give back to my community,” said Velez. “I feel it’s our duty to do that.”

None of the cleanups would be possible without the people who give their time to make the environment a healthy and safe space for a variety of species and for the planet.

“I’m glad I got to do this,” said Dixon. “It makes me feel good knowing we’re doing something good out here.”

If you want to help with these efforts, The Conservation section of Vandenberg's Civil Engineer Squadron has developed an "Adopt a Beach” program, where eight different Vandenberg beach areas have been adopted by various units and are cleaned several times per year. Check to see if your unit has already adopted a beach, or would be interested in doing so.

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