PORTSMOUTH — Although they’re focusing on one local beach this month, the folks at Clean Ocean Access (COA) will be expanding their shoreline cleanups to other spots in town starting next month.
“Starting in September we’re going to start doing monthly cleanups, including in Portsmouth,” said Dave McLaughlin, co-founder and executive director of COA, an environmental group based in Newport.
The group began its most recent round of local cleanups Aug. 6 at Pheasant Drive beach on the town’s west side. Those cleanups are continuing at the same spot at 5 p.m. every Wednesday this month: Aug. 13, 20 and 27.
“One of the residents (of Pheasant Drive) contacted me a few weeks ago and brought it to my attention, this whole issue of marine debris on the coastline,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
The Aug. 6 cleanup took in quite a haul: 45 pounds of marine debris.
That included 94 food wrappers, 39 straws, 36 plastic bottles and 50 cigarette butts. Also picked from the beach were a backpack, a garbage can full of shredded Styrofoam, a chair, lids to paint cans and a few car parts.
After the Pheasant Drive beach cleanups, the group will move around to other shoreline sites in town.
“On Sept. 20 is the International Coastal Cleanup and we’re hosting cleanups on McCorrie Beach and a few others,” said Mr. McLaughlin. “Over the wintertime and spring we’ll be going to Island Park Cove, Bluebell Cove, Common Fence Point, Bluebell Cove and Sandy Point Beach.”
About 60 people participate in cleanups and other activities, such as water quality tests and data entry, each week, he said. “Over the last eight years, almost 3,200 people have attended at least one event,” said Mr. McLaughlin.
There are seven members on COA board of directors, including Elaine Amaral, who’s been teaching physics, earth science and oceanography at Portsmouth High School since 1993.
She got involved about seven years ago, when Mr. McLaughlin and Marty Casey shared COA’s vision with her classroom. Ms. Amaral’s students have participated in beach cleanups ever since.
Another member of the board is Portsmouth’s Mike Sweeney, who has a degree in marine affairs and has managed the Goat Island Marina for the past 14 years. He first joined COA in 2006 conducting water sampling, and he also focuses on public access.
Nonprofit status sought
Besides conducting beach cleanups and working toward improving water quality and shoreline access, COA is also trying to become a nonprofit.
“We’re establishing the nonprofit right now and we’re going to be starting the initial fund-raising campaign with an event on Oct. 4 at the Rotunda on Easton’s Beach (in Newport),” he said.
Anyone who wants to take part in any COA event “can just show up,” said Mr. McLaughlin, but it’s better to send an e-mail first to [email protected]
For more information, call 401/465-0628 or visit www.cleanoceanaccess.org.