Visitor joins Sierra Club to clean Nukolii Beach

NUKOLII — Richard Zalewski has been to a number of beaches along the New Jersey coastline over the years, but says the ones on Kauai are among the cleanest he has seen.

“In New Jersey, you have to pay to get onto the beach — you have to pay for everything, but here, it’s free,” the Cherry Hill, N.J. visitor said as he stood on the shoreline at Nukolii Beach. “In New Jersey, the city usually cleans the beaches, so people leave trash there all the time, but I think it is a lot cleaner here than in New Jersey as a whole.

To keep it this way, Zalewski and several members from the Sierra Club’s Kauai chapter gathered on Sunday morning on the nearly two-mile long beach to pick up where people, and even Mother Nature, left off.

Nukolii Beach,  just south of Lydgate Beach Park and Wailua Golf Course, stretches for nearly two miles to Kauai Beach Villas.

Zalewski, who is visiting the island for the next three weeks as an electrical engineering consultant for the Pacific Missile Range Facility in Kekaha, said the cleanup could not have happened on a better day.

“Since I’m here for so long, I look for different things to do to get me out of my hotel room, so this is really enjoyable for me,” Zalewski said.

Judy Dalton, outings chairwoman for the Sierra Club’s Kauai chapter, said the timing of the organization’s bi-weekly cleanup was just right.

“We want to make sure we pick up some of the fireworks, beer bottles, and other trash leftover from the July 4, so that those items don’t harm the people and animals who use the beach,” Dalton said as she spotted a food wrapper in the sand.

In all, Sierra Club members and volunteers collected eight cat litter bags full of trash over a two-hour period.

“It’s a lot of little stuff,” Dalton said. “It doesn’t look very impressive, but when you think of all the tiny, tiny pieces of things, it adds up.”

But Zalewski, who does volunteer work with his skiing and hiking clubs in New Jersey, said he was impressed to see how clean the island’s streets and beaches are.

“I don’t see a lot of trash along the side of the road or anything like that,” Zalewski siad. “I think the people here are engrained with the philosophy of maintaining the status of the island — it’s not like you live in a state where people just don’t care.”

Dalton agreed but said people who visit any of the island’s beaches should follow a simple caveat: “Don’t leave any trace behind despite the fact that you’ve been to the beach.”

“I think a lot of people realize how precious the island is, so they want to keep it as pristine as they possibly can,” Dalton said.

The Sierra Club’s next beach cleanup is scheduled Saturday, Aug. 24 at Hanamaulu Beach Park.

Information: Dalton, 246-9067.

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