AS MANY AS 5,000 EXPECTED TO TAKE PART IN SECOND BARNEGAT BAY
BLITZ; CLEANUP EFFORT ADVANCES GOVERNOR’S RESTORATION PLAN
Schoolchildren to turn out in force for watershed-wide cleanup
(12/P56) TRENTON - Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin and nearly 1,000 DEP staff members will join as many as 4,000 volunteers from numerous local groups – including students from dozens of schools, environmentalists, businesses, and local government leaders – in the second Barnegat Bay Blitz watershed trash and debris cleanup Wednesday, May 9.
“The Barnegat Bay Blitz is grassroots environmentalism at its finest,” said Commissioner Martin. “By raising public awareness about the complex ecological problems the bay faces, the Barnegat Bay Blitz is vital to the Christie Administration’s 10-point comprehensive restoration plan for the bay. I am particularly excited by the involvement of schools and their students. Our youth are our best hope for the future of the bay.”
The inaugural version of the cleanup in October was a huge success, with more than 2,400 volunteers collecting tens of thousands of pounds of trash and debris over a week-long period. Even more impressive was a large turnout of volunteers on the primary day of the cleanup despite torrential rain.
On Wednesday, Commissioner Martin will join DEP staff and volunteers in picking up trash at several locations in the watershed. The Blitz will run from 8 a.m. to dusk, rain or shine.
The cleanups target a wide variety of locations, including wetlands, stream banks, stormwater discharge points, school grounds, trails, docks, areas around bulkheads, and the bay itself.
“We’re looking forward to much greater numbers of participants and even larger volumes of trash and debris to be collected this time around,” said DEP Blitz coordinator Lynette Lurig.
“Support for the Blitz is snowballing, taking hold in all corners of the watershed and among a wide variety of people,” added Katie Barnett, also a DEP event coordinator.
As many as 1,700 people – many of them schoolchildren – will be working on cleanups in and around Toms River alone.
Volunteers are coming from all 37 municipalities in the 660-square-mile watershed, which encompasses 33 municipalities in Ocean County and four in Monmouth County. The bay is suffering from degraded water quality caused by many factors, including excessive algae growth caused by nutrients from fertilizers and other sources.
The following is Commissioner Martin’s itinerary:
- 8 a.m.: Joins students from the MATES Academy for a litter cleanup along a stream near the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Location: Mayetta Landing Road near Cedar Run Dock Creek Road, West Creek, 08092
- 10 a.m.: Works with environmental science students in cleaning up woods near the Lacey Township High School. Location: 73 Haines Street, Lanoka Harbor, 08734
- Noon: Joins students from the Harold G. Antrim Middle School and Point Pleasant Beach High School at Little Silver Lake Park in Point Pleasant Beach. Location: Little Silver Lake Park, Arnold and Baltimore Avenues, Point Pleasant Beach, 08742.
- 3 p.m. Addresses volunteers and dignitaries at ceremony applauding the efforts of the participants. Preliminary numbers of waste collected will be made available. Location: Ocean County College, College Drive, Toms River 08754. Directions: http://www.ocean.edu/welcome/maps/maps_directions.htm
Parking is in Lot 2. Reception is in Solar Lounge. See map at: www.ocean.edu/welcome/maps/college_buildings/Student_Center.htm
DEP partners in the cleanup include the New Jersey Clean Communities Council, MATES Academy, the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, Waste Management, the Barnegat Bay Partnership, Clean Ocean Action, ReClam the Bay, Sustainable Jersey, Starbucks, Wawa, and the American Council of Engineering Companies.
“The cleanup addresses the goals of the Clean Communities Council through the volunteer stewardship of public lands and education in schools that will sustain a reduction in litter,” said Sandy Huber, Executive Director of the Clean Communities Council. “More importantly, it shows that when people work together they can solve important environmental problems. We are proud of everyone involved. And we are grateful to play a part in Governor Chris Christie’s strategic plan to restore Barnegat Bay.”
In addition to picking up trash, DEP staff will be doing field work, including identifying and taking GPS coordinates for unknown stormwater outfalls, assessing dozens of water bodies for algae blooms, helping three Eagle Scout candidates and Boy Scout Troop 177 from Egg Harbor Township install a footbridge along the Batona Trail in Bass River State Forest, and working with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey in repairing terrapin turtle protection fences along a causeway in Little Egg Harbor.
DEP inspectors will also help municipalities review operations of stormwater control systems, such as catch basins, detention basins and constructed wetlands.
“Restoration of Barnegat Bay, an ecological treasure that is vital to shore tourism, will take years of sustained work and a great deal of commitment from many people,” Commissioner Martin said. “One of the main goals of the blitz is to build a sense of ownership of the bay and inspire people who in live in its watershed to become its stewards for the long haul.”
Governor Christie launched the 10-point comprehensive restoration plan in December 2010. The Blitz fits in with Action Item No. 8, which calls for increased education efforts to foster public stewardship for the bay.
Other efforts undertaken by the Christie Administration as a result of the 10-point plan include the safe closure of the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant by 2019, enhanced state funding for local governments for projects to better control stormwater pollution, a tough statewide fertilizer law that benefits the bay by reducing nutrients in stormwater runoff, a detailed scientific study of water issues in the bay, and a first-ever Barnegat Bay-wide water quality monitoring network
Much of the trash that will be collected on Wednesday could otherwise ultimately enter the bay through the discharge of stormwater. Stormwater carries pollutants such as common lawn fertilizers, automotive fluids and silt that degrade wildlife habitat and water quality in Barnegat Bay and its tributaries.
The trash that volunteers collect will be turned over to local public works departments for proper disposal. Much of it, such as bottles and cans, will be recycled.
MEDIA NOTES: In addition to covering Commissioner Martin’s stops, media may contact team captains to coordinate local cleanup coverage. Team captain contact numbers and other information about the Barnegat Bay Blitz can be found at:
For information on the Governor’s Comprehensive Restoration Plan, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/barnegatbay/