Save the Sound’s 2016 Coastal Cleanup season kicks off

Save the Sound’s 2016 Coastal Cleanup season kicked off last weekend with a cleanup in Norwich on Saturday, Aug. 27 and will continue with a lecture in Ridgefield next week, and more than 70 cleanups across Connecticut’s shoreline over the next two months.

Each September, the International Coastal Cleanup, founded by Ocean Conservancy 31 years ago, brings together hundreds of thousands of volunteers to remove trash from coastlines around the world. Save the Sound, a bi-state program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, has been the Connecticut Coordinator for the annual cleanup since 2002. In the last seven years alone, more than 10,000 local volunteers have picked up approximately 50 tons of litter and debris from Connecticut’s beaches, rivers, coastal marshes, and island shores.

“I see it year after year: when people take action at a beach or river cleanup, something special happens,” said Chris Cryder, special projects coordinator at Save the Sound. “They start to feel personally invested, and to do more not only for the environment in their own backyards, but for all the birds and marine life that call the Sound and its shoreline home.”

The season opened last weekend with a river cleanup at Greenville Dam and fishing area in Norwich, orchestrated by F.H.L., a community service arm of the Groton-New London International Church of Christ. The group collected more than 100 pounds of garbage including a tire and a lawn mower engine.

“When our dams, rivers, lakes, and ocean are polluted, then our food, water, and swimming areas are threatened,”said Denise Hawk, cleanup captain for the Norwich site.

Plastics, glass, and other debris threaten the safety of beachgoers and boaters, and the lives of birds and marine wildlife. A recent study suggests that up to 90 percent of seabirds alive today have ingested plastic. Litter such as cigarette butts can also leach toxins into water. Cumulatively, these dangers can do real damage to communities and industries that depend on a healthy ocean.

Cryder, who heads Save the Sound’s Coastal Cleanup program, will give a talk entitled “The Menace of Marine Debris in Long Island Sound & Beyond (And What We Can Do About It!)” on Wednesday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. at the Ridgefield Library, 472 Main Street, Ridgefield. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Norwalk River Watershed Association and Woodcock Nature Center. Interested members of the public may register for the presentation at [email protected]

While September 17 is the worldwide day of volunteering, Save the Sound-affiliated cleanups will be held throughout September and into October. Any Connecticut resident or visitor is invited to see a list of public cleanup sites and register at weblink.donorperfect.com/ccregistration2016.

Cleanup at Greenville Dam in Norwich — Photo by Denise Hawk.

Cleanup at Greenville Dam in Norwich — Photo by Denise Hawk.

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