Volunteers being sought for annual Coastal Clean-up

What do a bowling ball, a shopping cart and thousands of cigarette butts have in common? Why, they were all items picked up in last year’s Coastal Clean-up, of course!

Representatives from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), Assateague Coastal Trust, Conectiv and Delmarva Power were on hand Tuesday, Aug. 18, to kick-off the 24th annual Coastal Clean-up. Volunteers are needed at 47 Delaware sites, plus 10 sites in Maryland and four sites in New Jersey, to comb the beaches for excess debris that is harmful to marine life, a degradation of area beaches and just plain ugly.

Matt Likovich of Delmarva Power, one of the sponsors, said the company’s commitment to the project is long-standing.

“Nineteen years ago, Dave Small, who is still with DNREC, called and said a company had bowed out of sponsoring the clean-up at the last minute. We jumped on board and still sponsor it to this day because it is such a worthwhile project.”

Likovich also shared an anecdote about a pair of dentures that was once found and put on the list of out-of-the-ordinary items collected. A newspaper picked up his comment, and two days later a woman called him and said they might be the dentures her father had lost five years earlier.

“While we have those humorous anecdotes, in all seriousness, the project does three things: Delmarva Power believes this annual clean-up is an environmental, educational and a good community event.”

DNREC Secretary Collin P. O’Mara said that volunteers of all ages are being invited to the 24th annual event and also mentioned the recent marine debris five-year report released by the Ocean Conservancy, which stated that trash that coming from humans’ ocean and land-based activities has increased by more then 5 percent each year.

“We really need everyone,” he said. “The success depends on citizens of the state. With the care of the citizens, we will reverse the trend.” He also thanked Delmarva Power and Conectiv for their leadership and emphasized the importance of the public, non-profit and government agencies working hand in hand.

Vicki Luttrell of Conectiv Energy summed up the call for the volunteers with what her company’s philosophy about the event.

“We believe it is not only our responsibility to support environmental stewardship, but it’s also the right thing to do.”

The state-wide clean-up will be held Saturday, Sept. 19, from 9 a.m. to noon. Sussex County sites include spots from Lewes to Cape Henlopen, down to Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island. Maryland sites include Assateague Island, Ocean City and the Nanticoke River.

Volunteers can register online at dnrec.delaware.gov, or for more information, call Coastal Cleanup Coordinator Joanna Wilson of DNREC at (302) 739-9902.