Online volunteer registration is now open for the Delaware Coastal Cleanup, to be held from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 15. Sponsored by DNREC, the cleanup spans the First State's 97-mile eastern coastline and includes river and ocean shorelines as well as wetland and watershed areas. This year, more than 40 sites in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties are targeted.
Volunteers are strongly encouraged to pre-register on the DNREC website to ensure enough supplies are provided and that everyone receives a custom-designed 2012 Coastal Cleanup t-shirt in appreciation of their efforts. Pre-registration will close at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 4. On the day of the event, T-shirts will be distributed to volunteers who have not pre-registered while supplies last on a first-come, first-served basis. To pre-register, go to www.dnrec.delaware.gov/CoastalCleanup.
At last year's Coastal Cleanup, more than 2,200 dedicated volunteers from civic organizations, youth groups, businesses and families collected 10.7 tons of trash from 41 sites along Delaware's shorelines and tributaries. Nearly 4 tons of that trash - mostly aluminum cans and plastic bottles - was recycled. Some of the more unusual finds included a BMX bicycle, a woman's wig, a flag pole, a port-a-potty, a full bottle of whiskey and 14 assorted appliances.
Delaware's Cleanup is part of the Ocean Conservancy's International Coastal Cleanup, the world's largest annual clearing of trash from coastlines and lakes by volunteers. Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world help each year to rid the environment of marine debris and collect detailed information on the types and quantities of refuse they find. The types and quantities of trash collected are recorded on data cards and forwarded to the Center for Marine Conservation, which compiles the information for all of the cleanups held in the country and around the world. This information helps identify the source of the debris and focus efforts on eliminating or reducing it.
The Ocean Conservancy supplies trash bags, data cards and marine debris brochures. Delaware's cleanup is co-sponsored by Delmarva Power, which provides t-shirts for the participants. DNREC is responsible for organizing the event, recruiting volunteers, distributing supplies, ensuring trash removal and tabulating data. Playtex Division of Energizer Personal Care, which provides gloves, and trash and recyclables hauler Waste Management also return as sponsors.
The Coastal Cleanup is held in conjunction with National Estuaries Day, which promotes the importance of estuaries and the need to protect them. Estuaries are vital to migratory species; provide critical habitat for a variety of marine plants and animals; help prevent coastal erosion; and are important recreational and tourist areas.
For more information about the Ocean Conservancy and the International Coastal Cleanup, visit www.oceanconservancy.org. For more information about the Delaware Coastal Cleanup, please call Rachel Coats, Delaware Coastal Cleanup coordinator, at 302-739-9902.