Thousands of volunteers turned this weekend for the 28th Clean the Bay Day, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) annual shoreline and stream cleanup and one of the largest volunteer events in Virginia.
In just three hours on Saturday, an estimated 6,000 volunteers at over 260 sites across the state, on foot and in boats, removed approximately 138,000 pounds of litter and debris along some 440 miles of shoreline.
“Thousands across Virginia came out this morning to do their part for the Bay and its many waterways,” said CBF Clean the Bay Day Coordinator Tanner Council. “With so many volunteers working in concert, a massive amount of harmful debris has been removed in just a few short hours – and the sites are healthier and more beautiful for it.”
The most common items found during the cleanup were, as usual, plastic bottles, plastic bags, and cigarette butts. But household appliances, automobile parts and tires, and many other large, harmful items were a significant portion of the overall yield.
Volunteers also pulled many strange items from rivers and streams, including a lottery ticket station, a crock pot, a jet ski, a complete car transmission and an axle, multiple mattresses, a teddy bear with Mardi Gras beads, an enormous stuffed bear, a taxidermy deer head, a screen door, a smart phone, one walkie-talkie, and two kitchen sinks.
Cleanups were held at scores of sites across Virginia, including Hampton Roads, Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Richmond, Charlottesville, Shenandoah Valley, and Northern Virginia. All of Virginia’s state parks within the Chesapeake Bay watershed offered cleanup sites. Overall, 17 cities and counties, 22 state parks, and 13 Department of Defense installations throughout the state were represented at the event. Many partner groups also joined CBF for this important annual project.
Among the thousands of volunteers were elected officials, including Congressman Rob Wittman, Hampton Vice-Mayor Linda Curtis, James City County Supervisor John McGlennon, Richmond City Councilman Jon Baliles, and many other local officials, service members, Scout groups, small businesses, large corporations, and thousands of citizens.
Major corporate sponsors for Clean the Bay Day include CSX, Norfolk Southern, and The Port of Virginia, with additional support from AltDaily, Inside Business, Coronal Group, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, and River Network/Budweiser.
“I hope today is a gateway for many volunteers to become more involved in taking care of the Bay and its rivers and streams,” CBF’s Council added. “Cleaning up litter is a great first step; but we also need to reduce the less visible sources of pollution harming our waterways. We must maintain our focus on cutting excess nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment pollution targeted by the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint, the multi-state plan to restore the Bay and its rivers.”
Since 1989, Clean the Bay Day has engaged approximately 146,000 volunteers who have removed more than 6.3 million pounds of debris from more than 6,940 miles of shoreline.