The State of Rhode Island surrounds a spectacular body of water, Narragansett Bay, and all Rhode Islanders live less than an hour from our 400-mile coastline. We have just 39 cities and towns, but more than half of them have harbor commissions. The Ocean State's economy is anchored in the bay and the ocean. Clearly, all Rhode Islanders have a stake in caring for this precious natural resource, and the volunteers of Clean Ocean Access are pitching in wholeheartedly.
What motivated the organizers -- just three individuals -- to act? Uncertainty about how to access the shoreline, which is a constitutional right of all Rhode Islanders. Then in 2006, there was a sewage spill in Easton's Bay....
They could have left it up to officials to deal with the problem, but they decided to do what they could.
And so, what has a small group of folks on Aquidneck Island accomplished since forming Clean Ocean Access in August 2006? From their "About" page:
"With over 4200 people involved on one way or another since our first days, we have conducted over 135 coastal cleanups that removed 56,000 pounds of marine debris and shown quantifiable reduction in marine debris at some locations, collected over 3,500 water samples testing for bacteria levels and alerted any potential water quality issues to appropriate government agencies, and adopted numerous access points in order to protect, preserve and maintain public access to the shorelines."
Read more in the 2013 Clean Ocean Access Annual Report."Although removing this much trash from the shoreline has possibly improved ocean health and had a noticeable positive contribution to beautifying our coastline, the biggest accomplishment of the program is the abundance of friendships and building momentum of positive energy within the entire community."
These folks are having a great time at the beach, and you are invited to join them this Saturday, November 15, in Portsmouth. More cleanups are scheduled in December.
Credit for illustration: Clean Ocean Access website: http://www.cleanoceanaccess.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Clean_3_goals.jpg.