Friday, 09 October 2009 00:00
Thanks to the combined efforts of the Town of Oyster Bay, Friends of the Bay and a dedicated corps of volunteers from the local community who worked together for the 24th International Coastal Cleanup, the beaches and bays of Oyster Bay are now much cleaner.
Members of the Junior Coalition of Friends of the Bay, students from East Woods School and Girl Scouts swarmed on Roosevelt and Beekman Beach, eager to help the environment. The Cub Scouts worked at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site. Since the 26th of September was also National Public Lands Day, this was especially fitting. Students from Westbury Friends School took care of the beach at Centre Island.
“I was especially glad to see such a large turnout of students, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts,” said Patricia Aitken, Friends of the Bay acting director. “Young people are a powerful force for change. Most marine debris, such as cigarettes, water bottles and fast food wrappers is entirely preventable. By simply becoming more aware of how garbage is disposed of, by being more mindful of litter, or by using recyclable containers, individuals can have a powerful positive impact on the marine environment.”
Other volunteers headed out in boats onto the water to beaches on Centre Island to remove trash that had washed up there during the summer months.
WaterFront Center Board Members Dave Relyea , Jamie Deming, Dave McLaughlin and Larry Schmidlapp headed off to clean up the beaches on the eastern shore of Centre Island near Seawanhaka Yacht Club. Jamie Deming, the WaterFront Center board president expressed her feelings that “the clean-up is an enjoyable activity, especially given the broad participation and camaraderie. I’m happy to have been a part of it with three other members of the WaterFront Center board. Friends of the Bay, led by Acting Director Pat Aitken, and accompanied by Board Member Barry Lamb and volunteers Hank Kasven and Rob Brusca, were right next to them, cleaning the area around Moses Point.
Another team from Sagamore Yacht Club headed off to Turtle Cove and the West Harbor.
There is strong community support for maintaining the health of our harbor – thanks are also due to Mitch Kramer of Tow Boat US, the underwater dive team of the Altantic Steamers Fire Department (their “catch of the day” this year was a shopping cart), the Oyster Bay Power Squadron, Oyster Bay Anglers, Sagamore Yacht Club and the many individuals who came to lend a hand. The Oyster Bay Marine Center celebrates the Coastal Cleanup every day – they make sure the marshes and harbor area around the marina is always clean and free of debris. The Town of Oyster Bay provided logistical support, including assistance in collecting the debris, providing garbage bags, logistics and assistance at the sign-in table. Commissioner Neil Bergin, Town Council Members Chris Coschignano and Beth Faughan, as well as Receiver of Taxes James Stefanich all came to lend a hand.
Data sheets detailing the types and quantities of marine debris collected were handed out to each team of volunteers. This information will be compiled and sent to The Ocean Conservancy, which will produce a report which is the world’s only state-by-state and country-by-country breakdown of the amount and type of trash in the ocean and waterways collected on just one day. This report also zeroes in on the startling impacts of ocean trash on wildlife and its connection to the challenge of global climate change. Along with the report’s recommendations, the Marine Debris Index provides a roadmap for eliminating marine debris altogether by reducing it at the source, changing behaviors that cause it, and supporting better policy.
While all data has not been received as yet, locally there were over 1,000 cigarette butts, 336 plastic bags, and over 600 food wrappers, cups and straws picked up. These numbers are actually low since many teams simply said “too many to count.” Virtually all of this garbage is preventable! Smokers and litterers should remember that when they throw their cigarettes and trash on the street, it is washed into the storm drains, and from there into the harbor. No one wants to swim in water polluted with garbage and old cigarettes.
Save the dates for next year – the Earth Day cleanup will be on April 24, 2010, and the International Coastal Cleanup will be Sept. 25. This is the 25th anniversary of the International Coastal Cleanup, so Friends of the Bay will plan something very special for that day.