Atlantic Beach — Environmentalists and others looking to volunteer have an opportunity to join the N.C. Coastal Federation for a cleanup event at Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail.
The NCCF will hold a shoreline cleanup event at 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 17 at Hoop Pole Creek Nature Trail. Volunteers interested in taking part in this event may register online at nccf.convio.net/site/Calendar?id=100141&view=Detail.
Participants will help pick up assorted trash and debris items, as well as trim trees and bushes along the trail and clean off the boardwalk. Interested volunteers are advised to dress for the event, which will take place outdoors; closed-toed shoes are required, and sturdy shoes for walking in wet areas are also recommended.
“Trash bags, gloves and other cleanup materials will be provided. Anyone under 16 must be accompanied by an adult,” the federation said in a release.
According to the announcement, one of the federation’s primary initiatives is to reduce the amount of marine debris littering coastal shorelines and waterways.
“Hoop Pole Creek is a coastal creek, salt marsh and maritime forest preserve that continues to be right with oysters, fish and other wildlife,” the federation said.
NCCF coastal education coordinator Rachel Bisesi said that as of Tuesday, about 12 people have signed up for the event.
“Last year, we had 71 volunteers at the Hoop Pole Creek cleanup,” she said, “but that event was also on a Saturday. When we did a Tuesday cleanup last February, we had seven volunteers attend.”
Ms. Bisesi said NCCF tries to clean up the Hoop Pole Creek trail at least once or twice a year.
“We also have a volunteer trail steward, Ed Phillips, who routinely checks the side and does light cleanup and maintenance,” she said.
According to Ms. Bisesi, the reason the federation regularly holds cleanup events at the trail is they manage the property and trail, which is also used by the community for recreation and education.
“In the past, the area was targeted for development, and plans included a boat marina and 41 residential and six commercial lots,” she said. “In 1997, the federation bought the 31-acre property with a grant from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Supporting the mission of the trust fund, the federation placed a conservation easement on the property, forever protecting this area for its outstanding water quality benefits and preserving its historical and recreational values.”
Volunteers who take part in these cleanups usually find wooden debris and plastics, including food wrappers and bottles, according to Ms. Bisesi. They also often find cigarette butts.
“The groups (last time) collected 25 contractor bags full of marine debris (about 750 pounds) and an additional 1,500 pounds of large, woody debris, mostly from docks that were destroyed by Hurricane Florence,” she said. “Some of the items found (included) cigarette butts, plastic bottles, small plastic pieces and Styrofoam pieces, a surprisingly large number of tennis balls, part of a toilet and an air mattress.”
Several mothers and daughters from the National Charity League will join the coastal federation and other, nonaffiliated volunteers.
“Members from the Emerald Isle Parrot Head Club also usually attend,” she said. “We strategically scheduled this cleanup on the day that Carteret County Schools have a half-day so students will be able to join if they wish.”
This won’t be the last marine debris cleanup this year. Ms. Bisesi said the federation’s next public cleanup will be held Wednesday, April 1 at Wards Creek.
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.