International Coastal Clean-up Day Comes to the Shores of Fire Island
By Shoshanna McCollum
Protecting Fire Island’s sandy white shores for surfers, beach revelers and generations to come is a job that begins now, not later. It was in this sprit that enclaves across the Great South Beach barrier island participated in International Coastal Cleanup Day organized by the Ocean Conservancy on Saturday, September 15th. The lists included the Davis Park / Ocean Ridge community, Fire Island Lighthouse Bay, Ocean Beach Village, Robert Moses State Park, and Sailor’s Haven.
The Fire Island Nations Seashore sponsored clean-up efforts also included the land tract dubbed the “Meat Rack” between Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines. The residents of the Grove and the Pines have organized grassroots organized clean-ups of this stretch of ocean to bay wilderness on an ad-hoc basis for quite some time. By tying the event in with Coastal Clean-up Day, FINS cooperated in their efforts this year in an official capacity.
The Ocean Conservancy has been running International Clean-up Day for over 25 years with 234 sites in New York State alone. It is an activity that reaches beyond picking litter off the beach. Gathered items are counted and cataloged to better understand what items are ending up on our shores and why. Bottles, cans, even a refrigerator was uncovered at what FINS was calling the “Carrington Tract” while cigarette butts, shoes, and even a pair of lace underwear were scooped up by the crews who walked along the dunes at Ocean Beach.
“I came here to sit and enjoy the beach,” said Ocean Beach resident Karin Bravin. “But when I saw the clean-up happening I figured why not?”
Volunteer numbers were not as robust in Ocean Beach with only 10 listed volunteers, when four years ago this number was closer to 50. However what volunteers there were reported a much cleaner beach then in past years possibly pointing to more responsible habits. The Lighthouse tract got only 6 volunteers, while Davis Park reported numbers closer to 30 resident volunteers.
“[International Coastal Clean-up Day] is always a good time,” wrote Mary Parker, Captain of the Davis Park crew. “[It] comes at the most beautiful time of year and everyone is in great spirits.”
Indeed keeping the shoreline free of debris is not just a feel-good gesture. It is a quality of life issue for all of earth’s creatures great and small.
Photo Caption: Joe Polonsky, Robin Kahn and Karin Bravin are just some of the dedicated volunteers who participated in International Coastal Clean-up Day on Fire Island.