Nearly 2 million people live in the Narragansett Bay watershed. About half of those people are Rhode Islanders, including every resident of Jamestown. And that’s not counting the more than 12 million that visit the bay each year.
That’s a lot of people to stuff into a watershed of under 2,000 square miles. Consequently, that’s a lot of pollution that will wash up on the bay’s 256 miles of shoreline. The 145,000 feet of coast surrounding Conanicut Island is no exception.
It’s because of those staggering numbers that Conservation Commissioners Patrick Driscoll and Michael Brown will once again spearhead the annual Earth Day cleanup. From Potter’s Beach under the Newport Bridge, to Sunset Beach and its view of the Verrazano, Driscoll and Brown are asking Jamestown residents to help keep the island’s 27 miles of shoreline the cleanest on the bay.
Last year volunteers collected 2,700 pounds of trash. The year before that was 3,700. That means in the past two years, environmentally concerned residents have helped collect enough cigarette butts, beer cans, plastic bags, six-pack rings and other trash left behind or washed ashore to outweigh a Cadillac Escalade.
Volunteers are asked to meet at the recreation center at 8:30 a.m. Slice of Heaven has once again generously offered to fuel the trash-collecting crew with muffins and coffee. Volunteers will be broken up into teams and led to access points around the island including East and West ferries, Sheffield and Hull coves, Fort Getty and the town beach.
Lunch will be served at noon.
There is no registration, no waivers, no age restrictions. Just show up at the recreation center at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning with gloves and work clothes. Children are welcome to help. More volunteers than ever are needed because of the debris brought to the island from Hurricane Sandy and the February blizzard that dropped 2 feet of snow onto the island.
Many ways to protect the environment and make the community greener are uphill battles. Banning plastic bags takes an ordinance. Wind turbines have to show a profit. Installing solar panels costs money.
But picking up trash is the simplest form of helping the Earth. Conservation doesn’t always have to be hard.
— Tim Riel