“It was only a matter of time before someone got blamed for the state of the bayou,” he said. “It’s a shame it had to take 50 years before someone would do something about it.”
A major contribution to the build up of garbage is the storm water runoff that washes out anything in the community’s streets, yards and outdoor malls into the bay, said Zuelsdorf. Although the surrounding cities, St. Petersburg and City of Gulfport, are developing a storm water system, it won’t be ready until 2010; in the meantime, he said it was important to have a maintenance program.
“The funny thing is until I released video, people didn’t believe this was going on,” Zuelsdorf said. “It’s a shame (the cleanup) had to wait for years. All it took was one person to invite a news crew for a little help.”
Zuelsdorf plans on making the program take place twice a month. The next phase includes traveling into the surrounding neighborhoods and offer an educational program one block at a time: In exchange for the families picking up the garbage, Zuelsdorf offers them tours of the bayou. He has tested the idea with a couple of families already.
“They had an absolute blast and started asking me if they could get the neighbors involved,” he said.
With all the attention the media and community have given the cleanup, Zuelsdorf hopes to inspire people to duplicate the project in their hometowns. A young boy brought him a cutout of an advertisement for a bayou cleanup. The ad had encouraged the boy to start a cleanup program at school.
“Out of all, that is the most satisfying,” he said. “To have touched a kid so that they want to do something-it’s priceless.”
Zuelsdorf is using videos on YouTube to encourage people around the nation to enjoy nature as well as pick up trash. Even in a remote place, garbage is still found.