Monday, April 06, 2009

Letters to the Editor
Monday, April 06, 2009

Please participate in this month's islandwide cleanup

Two and one half years ago, the Beautify CNMI campaign put together an event called “1020 on 10/20.” We challenged 1,020 people to spend a few hours on October 20 doing something to make these islands a better place to live and visit. Over 3,380 locals, contract workers, government workers, business owners, elected officials, and students heeded the call and spent the morning of Oct. 20 picking up litter off roads and beaches, painting over graffiti, and planting trees. Our collective efforts were impressive.

If my records are to be believed, that year the Coastal Resources Management Office teamed up with the Mariana Islands Nature Alliance to remove 380 lbs of trash from Tank Beach. The students at Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary removed 500 lbs of trash from the beach behind their school. The Division of Environmental Quality cleaned up the area north of the 13 Fishermen Memorial and planted several dozen coconut trees. They removed 280 lbs of trash. All told over 9,120 lbs of litter were removed from the 32 cleanup sites adopted in 2006.

A second islandwide cleanup is being planned for April 17, 2009, as part of the Commonwealth's celebration of Earth Month. The concept for this event is similar to what we did with “1020 on 10/20.” We are asking community members, business owners, and government agencies to spend up to two hours enhancing the areas around their homes, businesses, and offices.

Several organizations are helping us organize this cleanup. The Rotary Club of Saipan, Marianas Tourism Education Council, and Division of Environmental Quality are the lead coordinators. The Marianas Visitors Authority is donating $1,500 for the purchase of plastic bags, rubber gloves, and paint supplies. They will be available for pickup at DEQ later this week. DEQ has also pledged to use their trucks and staff to pick up and transfer all garbage to the Lower Base transfer station, which Department of Public Works will be keeping open late to accommodate us.

Additionally, Governor Fitial has agreed to allow all Executive Branch agencies to participate in this islandwide cleanup during working hours. More information on their participation should be forthcoming from the Governor's Office and the Division of Environmental Quality.

I humbly invite you to join us in this year's islandwide cleanup. You can adopt a spot, either your favorite beach, a tourist attraction, or the road in front of your home, business, or office, or you can join another group at their cleanup. A list of all of this year's adopted spots can be found at Simply contact the coordinator for that location and tell them you want to join.

If you would like to adopt a spot this year, please call me at 285-6462 or Joe Kaipat at DEQ at 664-8500 or email me at I will send you the one-page sign up sheet and help you with your adopted spot's logistics.

These islands are our home and if we don't take care of it, nobody else is going to do it for us. The Beautify CNMI campaign has always belonged to the entire community. I will often say, “Everyone is a member of Beautify CNMI, even if they don't know it yet.” This campaign has always been one of the people and by the people. When we didn't have money for garbage bags, somebody has always donated them. When we needed volunteers, somebody has always given us their time. With this cleanup, we are asking for your help one more time.

This cleanup comes right around the time of the third anniversary of Beautify CNMI and I'm looking forward to this event launching us into a successful fourth year. Again, I humbly ask you to participate in this year's islandwide cleanup. Participate with your family, your co-workers, or your classmates, but please participate.

Angelo O’Connor Villagomez
Volunteer, Beautify CNMI

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