The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation is kicking off their 2016 Pick It Up! initiative with a gathering and beach cleanup at the Fire Island National Seashore from 2–4 p.m. on Saturday, February 6.
Designed to help preserve and protect the marine environment of Long Island, Pick It Up! brings volunteers together for beach cleanups on the first Saturday of each month. Participants will lend a hand in cleaning a total of five beaches across Long Island, getting rid of the marine debris that has an adverse effect on the environment and marine animals such as seals.
The cleanups aren’t just a means to get the public involved or to clean beaches. They also help with important research. “Scientists gather data on the amount and radius of debris, so that they can use the data to see which sites need the most help,” Rachel Bosworth, Public Information Officer for the Riverhead Foundation, says, noting that the data also helps the Riverhead Foundation apply for crucial grants, which allow the program to continue each year.
Along with volunteers, who come from around the Island to help with cleanups, companies such as TJ Maxx occasionally lend a hand as well, so turnout can vary depending on each cleanup date. On January 18, the final cleanup of 2015 included 17 volunteers who were able to remove 246 pounds of debris in a single hour, including rope, lobster pots, iron fencing and bottle caps.
“For all of us, our favorite thing about the program is probably the community involvement,” Bosworth says. “People are passionate about the environment, and never realize the amount of marine life that exists in their own backyard, so it’s nice when volunteers see that their help makes a difference.”
Volunteers can expect backup dates in case of rain, snow, or other inclement weather, but the Riverhead Foundation will share regular updates, should schedules change. All cleanups are open to the public, and if you’d like to sign up, or to simply find out more about the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 631-369-9840 or visit riverheadfoundation.org.
Anyone registered for this Saturday’s cleanup should meet at the Fire Island National Seashore Wilderness Center at 2 p.m.