DEP Bay Blitz Kicks Off at Barnegat Dock

Jun 15, 2018

Since 2011, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection has coordinated a Barnegat Bay Blitz, where volunteers clear out trash from the 660-square-mile watershed. But the June 8 event marked the first time that the DEP held a kick-off ceremony at the public dock in Barnegat Township. Presiding was Catherine McCabe, acting DEP commissioner. Barnegat is one of 37 municipailties in the watershed area.

“Barnegat Bay is a unique natural resource and a source of pride for residents of the region, the state and all who visit the area,” said McCabe during the ceremony. “The passion for protecting the bay and its watershed is contagious, and the enthusiasm shown by the young people taking part is especially inspiring.”

She said that over the years, nearly 32,000 volunteers have collected some 4,600 cubic yards of trash, recyclables and debris from areas within the watershed, including wetlands, forests, parks, storm drains, docks, creeks and the bay itself. Items collected in the past have ranged from typical trash such as bottles, paper and cardboard to electronic devices such as TVs, and even large pieces of debris from Superstorm Sandy.

“Removing these items from the bay’s ecosystems helps protect water quality and the fish and wildlife that depend on the bay’s habitats,” said McCabe. “Equally important, the Barnegat Bay Blitz unites people with many different backgrounds in doing something immensely important for this resource and motivating others to emulate them.”

Following the ceremonies, teams led by captains – many of them DEP employees – dispersed across the watershed to begin the cleanup. A captain and team are assigned to each municipality in the watershed.

“The weather was perfect,” said Mayor Frank Caputo, who was on hand for the occasion. “I’m honored that the state decided to have the kick-off in Barnegat. As a bayfront community, we all know how important is to have a clean Barnegat Bay area and watershed.”

Larry Hajna, DEP spokesman, said the first Barnegat Bay Blitz was held in October 2011, and it has grown significantly each year since.

We hold one in the spring and in the fall,” he said.

“Long, shallow and narrow, the Barnegat Bay is susceptible to the impacts of storm water runoff and accumulations of trash and debris along its shorelines and in its wetlands,” says the DEP on its web site. “A study by the University of Delaware for the Barnegat Bay Partnership estimates that the watershed and activities related to its natural resources contribute more than $4 billion to the state’s economy each year and directly or indirectly support more than 60,000 jobs.”

Blitz sponsors include the Barnegat Bay Partnership, New Jersey Clean Communities, the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, Wawa, Waste Management, TowBoat US, the U.S. Geological Survey, New Jersey Natural Gas, Ocean Spray, Suez-United Water, Ocean County government, PS&S, Firestone, the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, ReClam the Bay, Save Barnegat Bay, AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassadors, Boating Education and Rescue, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

— Eric Englund

ericenglund@thesandpaper.net

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