LBI Students Participate in Barnegat Bay Blitz
The local environment was the main subject on Oct. 18 at the Long Beach Island Consolidated School District as students took part in activities for the Barnegat Bay Blitz.
A massive cleanup initiated last year by the state Department of Environmental Protection, the blitz was part of a public education campaign in Gov. Christie’s 10-point comprehensive action plan to address the ecological health of the Barnegat Bay and its watershed.
“Our first cleanup was held last October and we had another one in May,” said DEP spokesman Larry Hajna. “The idea was to work with town officials, senior citizens, students, businesses and any other volunteers in all 37 communities in the Barnegat Bay watershed area. We were especially hoping to have schools participate because it is a great educational tool. The future of the watershed will depend on these kids as they grow into adults.”
Karen McKeon, LBI district superintendent, said that at the Ethel Jacobsen School in Surf City, children in the pre-K program and the first and second grades picked up litter and debris on the school grounds.
“They also made a fish out of recyclable materials,” she said.
At the LBI Grade School in Ship Bottom, third-graders cleaned up the area, while fourth- and fifth-graders planted dune grass and collected litter on the beaches. The sixth grade students picked up debris at the bay beach in Surf City and also took samples for water quality testing.
McKeon said there were also presentations from Surf City Councilman Peter Hartney and Rick Bushnell, president of ReClam the Bay.
“We have various programs throughout the year to make sure our children understand the importance of preserving our coastal environment,” she said.
Hajna said that overall, the blitz collected 799 bags of trash and 180 bags of recyclables.
“We also had an additional 13 Dumpsters of trash,” he said. “A lot of the stuff volunteers were looking for were commonly discarded items.”
However, there were some items that weren’t too common, such as 35 TVs found at a site in South Toms River.
“There were places in Stafford and Lacey where we found discarded hot tubs,” said Hajna. “We found an abandoned refrigerator in Toms River and Island Beach State Park.”
He said volunteers also found an old sailboat sitting in the Brendan Byrne State Forest, located just west of Lacey Township.
“We wish people wouldn’t use these areas as dumping grounds,” he said. “We found some large items like those in our first two blitz cleanups.”
In the first blitz, 731 trash bags were filled, and recyclable items filled an additional 531 bags. There were also three Dumpsters filled with trash. In last spring’s event, 816 bags of trash and 272 bags of recyclables were picked up, along with eight Dumpsters.
When you get an opportunity to help clean up something as important as the Barnegat Bay, it is a great thing,” said Deputy DEP Commissioner Irene Kropp in a press release. “But it’s not only about going out and picking up trash. It’s about an overall vision on how we can clean the surface waters of the state. With the Barnegat Bay, there is a lot science and sampling going on designed to improve the bay’s health. The goal is to make the restoration of the Barnegat Bay as a model to improve the other surface waters of the state.”
— Eric Englund