Local Community Bands Together to Clean Up Destroyed Beaches After July 4th Celebrations

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Jul 04, 2024

Local coastal communities throughout Oregon have struggled to keep July 4th celebrators from completely trashing and destroying their beaches every single year.

One community has simply had enough. This has led a few residents to band together to clean up their beaches on July 5th after partygoers have finally fled the premises, leaving all of their trash and plastic behind.

July 4th Parties at the Beach

Throughout Oregon, many locals and tourists travel to various beaches along the coast to celebrate July 4th, bringing food and fireworks with them.

Many people in front of water watching fireworks in the sky at night.

Source: あま あわれ/Unsplash

Oregon isn’t alone in seeing this type of activity. Many people flock to beaches throughout the United States to spend the Fourth of July near the ocean with their friends and loved ones.


Badly Behaved Tourists

Unfortunately, many beach communities in Oregon have experienced badly behaved tourists — and these beachgoers seem to be getting worse every year.

Many people walking on an Oregon beach in the daytime.

Source: Patrick Konior/Unsplash

After celebrating the summer holiday all night long, these tourists (and even some locals) leave the beach completely trashed. Locals are obviously fed up.

An Unsustainable Situation

Some residents have even opened up to local reporters about this situation that they see each and every year. Those who live in beach areas, such as Warrenton and Gearhart, have explained that they would like people to stop leaving behind a destroyed beach.

A pile of trash found on a beach in the sand.

Source: Brian Yurasits/Unsplash

Tina Popke, a Gearhart resident, said, “It’s a great holiday here. It’s just at the beach and the way it has gotten out of hand is not sustainable.”

Various Objects Are Left Behind

Popke further opened up about how hundreds of people end up on Gearhart beaches for Fourth of July celebrations. However, they end up leaving behind a ton of trash — and a ton of objects.

A dog with a big stick in its mouth walking on a beach in Gearheart, Oregon.

Source: Paul Buffington/Unsplash

For example, your regular trash, such as plastic and empty bags, can often be found on the morning of July 5th. But Popke has also stated that beachgoers leave behind things like camping gear, and even furniture like tables and chairs.

Dangerous Plastics

Even worse, the plastic that is often left behind by these partygoers can bring about a lot of danger to the local ecosystem and ocean animals. This has made Gearhart locals very concerned.

Plastic bottles and bags left behind on a beach in front of the water.

Source: Ron Lach/Pexels

”Plates, all kinds of plastic. and the fireworks themselves have microplastics in them that harm the sea, the sand, and the dunes,” Popke explained.


Stopping the Destruction of Beaches

Many residents in these Oregon areas would like visitors to stop trashing their beaches every July 4th. However, it appears that even the police can’t do too much to keep this bad behavior at bay.

A view of grass and sand by the ocean in Warrenton, Oregon.

Source: Geoff Chang/Unsplash

According to Warrenton’s Fire Chief, Brian Alsbury, it can be very difficult for the force to enforce all firework rules, as there aren’t enough staff members to keep an eye out during the holiday festivities.


Fireworks Cannot Be Used on Beaches

The official Oregon State Fire Marshall website says that fireworks cannot be used in various areas — particularly beaches.

A person holding an American flag and a firework.

Source: Stephanie McCabe/Unsplash

Illegal fireworks are also prohibited everywhere in the state, but definitely in these areas, as potential fires could erupt. These fireworks could also bring danger to the local ocean life in the vicinity.


Celebrators Don’t Follow These Rules

Unfortunately, even the Fire Chief knows that Fourth of July celebrators don’t follow these firework rules when they’re partying on Oregon beaches.

A view of colorful fireworks in the sky at night.

Source: Anthony Roberts/Unsplash

“There’s 90% illegal fireworks on the beach,” Alsbury explained. “What we do for the best is just we sent out to vehicles on patrol, and we’re there with water and our wildland rigs to put out any fires that may be started by somebody who would carelessly shooting fireworks into the dune grass.”


Too Many People Bring Disaster to Oregon Beaches

However, Alsbury further stated that there are simply too many people shooting off these illegal fireworks while at the beach — and too few people are patrolling the area to stop this illegal activity.

A can left as litter on a beach.

Source: Erik Mclean/Pexels

As a result, these Oregon beaches are left destroyed but also littered with the remains of used fireworks.


Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

Year after year, these local communities have become frustrated with how their beaches are left on the morning of July 5th. As a result, they’ve decided to take matters into their own hands.

A person cleaning up trash and a plastic water bottle left behind on a beach.

Source: Marta Ortigosa/Pexels

Residents Cyndi and Tina have even created a beach cleanup crew that goes around on July 5th to pick up all the trash that has been left behind by these poorly behaved Fourth of July celebrators and tourists.


Concerns Remain

However, even this helpful effort hasn’t eliminated the frustration that residents have — and the concerns that the sea life will continue to be harmed by these tourists. Resident Bricca said, “We don’t clean up till the next day. The problem is the tide comes in at night and so by then all of the garbage, a large portion of it, has already been buried or taken out to sea.”

A view of a ton of trash on a beach.

Source: Magda Ehlers/Pexels

Regardless, locals are still hoping that visitors coming into their towns will respect their beaches as they celebrate the Fourth of July. They’re hoping that this year, these tourists may just listen to them and pick up after themselves.