New App Enlists Smart Phone Users in Keeping Puget Sound Clean

Your smart phone can now help clean up Puget Sound.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced the launch of MyCoast Washington – a mobile app that allows the public to help identify and remove marine debris.

The app allows people to photograph large marine debris, creosote-treated wood, derelict vessels, storm surge damage, king tides and changes to shorelines while walking Washington’s beaches. DNR and its partners will then use that information to prioritize clean-ups and inform management of aquatic lands in a changing climate.

DNR is a state leader in restoring marine environments. Since 2002, DNR has removed more than 50 million pounds of marine debris – the equivalent of 72 Boeing 747’s – from Washington’s waterways. Creosote-treated materials leach chemicals into beach and marine sediments causing toxic conditions for organisms that live in and use these areas.

But with only three full-time employees spearheading the work, the agency needs assistance in identifying debris that is polluting our waters around the state.

“Now more than ever, it is our duty to safeguard Washington’s waters and beaches from toxins and pollutants,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz. “The MyCoast app allows all Washingtonians to participate in protecting our waters, ensuring our people, salmon, and orcas have clean, healthy habitat. We’re working to speed up our efforts to restore Puget Sound, and this app lets anyone who cares about Puget Sound’s health join in.”

Washington MyCoast is a project of the Washington Department of Natural Resources, in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington Sea Grant, the Snohomish County Marine Resource Committee, and the Northwest Straits Initiative.

Anyone who spots creosote, old docks, floats, or other marine debris on the beach can simply take a picture in the MyCoast app, and that geo-located photo will go directly to the DNR Marine Debris Removal Program, letting them know what was spotted and where it is.

Residents can also use the MyCoast Washington app to contribute to ongoing shoreline research and monitoring by documenting areas where storm surge or king tide events have changed shorelines.

The app is available for the iPhone from the Apple App Store or for Android phones from Google Play.

Under the guidance of Commissioner Franz, DNR is committed to restoring development-damaged aquatic lands and access to rivers cut off by barriers to fish passage.

As part of that commitment, the agency is asking Washington’s legislature for a $90 million funding package to protect and restore aquatic habitats to boost salmon and orca recovery efforts. This package funds direct implementation of expanded restoration efforts, one of several actions recommended by the Southern Resident Killer Whale Task to boost orca habitat, as well as action items identified by the Puget Sound Partnership and Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

As steward of 2.6 million acres of public aquatic lands, DNR manages the bedlands under Puget Sound and the coast, many of Washington’s beaches, and natural lakes and navigable rivers. DNR manages these lands to facilitate navigation, commerce, and public access, and to ensure protection of aquatic habitat. Since 2004, DNR has partnered with entities such as Marine Resources Committees (MRC), WSU BeachWatchers, People for Puget Sound, Washington State Parks, The Nature Conservancy, and the Northwest Straits Commission, to identify and remove creosote-treated debris.