Crew hopes to bring twice monthly cleanups to Keys beaches
Tramping through the backwood-mangroves of remote Grassy Key, Kendall Klay and Douglas Hattendorf and a few volunteers pulled 4,000 pounds of trash caught in the roots of the hammock to be disposed of properly. They did it because they had a little extra time and wanted to make a difference.
“This isn’t our garbage, we didn’t put it here,” Klay said of the debris piled up from faraway lands and offshore boats. “But, now it belongs to us because it landed on our beaches, our islands.”
The two met at this year’s Marathon Seafood Festival in March and hit it off with much common ground between them — both raised on Grassy Key, both with a passion for preserving the precious recourses of the Florida Keys. Klay runs a charter boat and kayaking company, Keys To The Keys Adventures, and Hattendorf runs MamaOcean. Hattendorf has been pulling trash off Grassy Key beaches and roads since the 90s.
“I’m on a mission and I’m not stopping,” said Hattendorf, who adopted MM 56-58 in Grassy Key and is constantly picking up trash along the roadside two to four bags at a time — enough that he doesn’t go over his home’s trashcan quota. “I’ve brought in alone about 20,000 pounds of trash since August.”
Klay has been keeping a small island off Stirrup Key clean for years, and when he mentioned this to Hattendorf, Hattendorf said he’d show him a spot where the trash gathered on the beach, pushed into the mangroves by high tides and was trapped.
“We are trying to set an example of what a couple people can do,” said Klay standing beside mountains of trash bags, waiting to be loaded into dumpsters donated by Marathon Garbage Service. “We don’t have a lot of resources, but look what we can accomplish.”
They pulled ropes, toothbrushes, water and fuel jugs, cans and bottles, broken plastics, chum boxes and bottle caps galore out of the mangrove area. “It was about 99 percent plastics we cleaned up, because it floats,” said Klay. “And, it lays down a path of destruction all the way, taking out wildlife along its journey.”
Klay hopes to raise money to cleanup different Keys areas two times a month and really hopes other charter boat captains will call him and chip in their boats and time, too. “I hope I can get some support so we can continue doing this,” said Klay. “We want people to see it, I don’t think most locals really know how bad it is back there.”
For more information about the cleanup, call Klay at 409-443-8850 or visit mamaocean.com.
Klay and Hattendorf — with the help of Kurly’s Coffee, Promotions Guy, Marathon Garbage Service, Winn Dixie and an army of volunteers — hope to clean the beaches again on Monday, May 2 leaving the docks at 10 a.m. “Anyone is welcome to join us,” said Klay of Keys To The Keys Adventures. They will be supplying boats to the area, kayaks and paddleboards, gloves and trash bags, and an after-the-cleanup cookout. Meet at Keys To The Keys Adventure’s dock located at 11699 Overseas Highway, Marathon by Vaca Cut. In May, they are looking forward to cleaning Tom’s Harbor Bridge via scuba diving.