Suffolk joins Bay cleanup effort

Published 8:36 pm Monday, June 7, 2010

More than 120 volunteers worked at various locations around the city on Saturday to pick up plastic bags, cigarette butts and more than 3,400 pounds of garbage that otherwise could have ended up in the Chesapeake Bay.

Participating in the 22nd annual Clean the Bay Day, Suffolk fell short of its collection goals this year, but city officials still were pleased with the commitment of those who volunteered to help with the multi-state effort.

“Kudos to all of our volunteers for giving of themselves toward a cleaner bay,” Suffolk Litter Control Coordinator Hattie Lester said. “If uncontrolled, litter will eventually wash into our waterways, harming our precious animals and polluting the water.”

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Organized by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Saturday’s event took place in all the states that border the Chesapeake Bay and among communities within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

In Suffolk, organized cleanup events were held at Bennett’s Creek Park and at Lone Star Lakes Park, Lester said. Volunteers also worked along the mouth of the Nansemond River.

This year, there were volunteers with boats to help clean parts of the river that might otherwise be inaccessible. Members of the Nansemond River Power Squadron turned out in force to help, Lester said.

But volunteers showed up in the largest numbers at the two parks, especially at Bennett’s Creek Park, which boasts shoreline that could be cleaned, along with field and wooded areas where participants could pick up trash.

Cleaning the parks, said CBF co-captain Marina Letourneau, helps the organization make a bigger impact and keep young participants safe, while — in cases like Bennett’s Creek Park — still cleaning up some shoreline.

There were more than 80 volunteers in the woods and fields and along the shoreline at Bennett’s Creek between 8 a.m. and noon on Saturday.

Among the participating organizations were the Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s Federal Managers’ Association, the Nansemond-River Power Squadron, Girl Scout Troop 873, Boy Scout Troop 911, the Suffolk Master Gardeners, a youth group from Holland Baptist Church, a group of sixth graders from King’s Fork Middle School and a number of other individuals.

Volunteers collected a total of 3,401 pounds of litter in Suffolk. That total included 575 plastic bags; 1,960 cigarette butts; 1,56 plastic bottles, straws and cups; 904 aluminum and metal containers; 924 pieces of paper; and a variety of Styrofoam, fishing debris, tires and glass.

Among the unusual items that were retrieved were the frame for a screen door, a six-foot piece of Styrofoam and an electric circuit board.

Last year, 85 city volunteers collected 6,500 pounds of debris, Lester said Saturday. This year’s goals had been 185 volunteers and 12,000 pounds of trash.