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Jul 8, 2009 12:27 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Volunteers remove almost three tons of debris from Shinnecock Bay

Jul 8, 2009 12:27 PM

Old duck blinds, wood from dilapidated boardwalks and even abandoned boats were some of the pieces of debris volunteers removed from the wetlands bordering Shinnecock Bay in East Quogue on Friday morning.

About 35 volunteers joined Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister, whose non-profit organization is dedicated to preserving the quality of the Peconic and South Shore estuaries, in an effort to clean up the Dune Road side of Shinnecock Bay. He said that altogether, volunteers removed nearly three tons of debris from the shoreline between 10 a.m. and noon.

“The wetlands and marshes are in much better shape today than where they were three days ago,” Mr. McAllister said on Monday.

He explained that the volunteers lined up on the bay side of Dune Road, starting at the Quogue Village border and extending east all the way to the East Quogue/Hampton Bays border. They removed debris, broke it up into smaller pieces and placed it in several Dumpsters.

“They did tremendous work for public-owned wetlands,” Mr. McAllister said.

The Peconic Baykeeper said he had never before seen a cleanup of the Dune Road watershed as intense as the one Friday. “We were dealing with heavy stuff,” he said. “We pulled out three or four boats, boardwalks. It was incredible.”

He noted that there was so much debris that it could not all fit in the Dumpsters. Therefore, volunteers had to leave piles of waste along Dune Road, which were later disposed of by the Southampton Town Parks and Recreation Department.

Mr. McAllister, who said he plans to hold similar events in the future, said Friday’s cleanup was made possible due to a $50,000 grant from Aquarius Spring!, a bottled water subdivision of the Coca-Cola company. The company has recently partnered with other organizations, like Peconic Baykeeper, that support water conservation across the nation.

“It is part of Coca-Cola’s water stewardship effort to ensure communities have clean drinking water throughout the world,” said Kristen Witt, a representative of Coca-Cola’s environmental department. “Our ultimate goal is an idea of replenishment.”

Aquarius Spring! awarded the grant to the Peconic Baykeeper because New York will be one of the states where the bottled water will be sold. The money was used to pay for the Dumpsters and lunch for volunteers. The remaining money will help fund other initiatives later this year.

Volunteer Renee Spano, who lives in Quiogue, said she was shocked to see so much litter, like discarded bottles, hiding just a few feet below the surface of the water in Shinnecock Bay.

“It was a big awakening for me because you don’t really see it,” she said of the debris.

Ms. Spano, who attended Friday’s cleanup with her 11-year-old daughter, Brandigene, said she participated in the event because she thinks it is important to protect the quality of local bays and rivers. “We’re on an island,” Ms. Spano said. “It’s all about our waters out here.”

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Its sickening the amount of trash people throw in the bay. I've brought up everything from catch nets to anchors. One time I caught an expired credit card in my rake.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Jul 8, 09 2:42 PM
stiffer fines, better enforcement. save the planet.
By local (106), north sea on Jul 8, 09 10:25 PM
My daughter brings two bags to the beach when we go; one for shells and one for garbage. Parents need to teach their children the importance of keeping our beaches (and earth) clean.
By cush870 (31), east quogue on Jul 31, 09 11:08 AM