(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA)—Thousands of volunteers turned out today for the 27th Clean the Bay Day, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) annual shoreline and stream cleanup and one of the largest volunteer events in Virginia.
In just three hours today, an estimated 6,000 volunteers at nearly 275 sites across the state, on foot and in boats, removed approximately 125,000 pounds of litter and debris along some 530 miles of shoreline.
"The Bay and its waterways work for us every single day, boosting our economy and quality of life," commented CBF Clean the Bay Day Coordinator Tanner Council. "Clean the Bay Day is an easy, tangible way for individuals to give a few hours back and make a big difference."
The most common items found during today's cleanup were, as usual, plastic bottles, plastic bags, and cigarette butts. But household appliances, automobile parts and tires, and many other large, harmful items were a significant portion of the overall yield.
Volunteers also pulled many strange items from rivers and streams, including a stolen, burned-out car, two car bumpers, a rusty safe, a 50-foot gill net, and a bride-and-groom wedding cake topper.
Cleanups were held at scores of sites across Virginia, including Hampton Roads, Eastern Shore, Richmond, Charlottesville, Shenandoah Valley, and Northern Virginia. All of Virginia's state parks within the Chesapeake Bay watershed offered cleanup sites. Overall, 15 cities and counties and 23 state parks throughout the state were represented at the event, with many more partner groups joining CBF for this important annual project.
Among the thousands of volunteers were elected and appointed officials, including Congressman Rob Wittman, Senators Lynnwood Lewis and Frank Wagner, Delegates Bill DeSteph and Montgomery Mason, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, many local elected officials, personnel from U.S. Navy installations, Scout groups, small businesses, large corporations, and thousands of citizens.
In addition to these partners, Clean the Bay Day is made possible by the generosity of sponsors, including AltDaily, CSX, Brown Advisory, Entercom Communications, Farm Fresh, HelioSage, Inside Business, Norfolk Southern, Port of Virginia, and River Network/Budweiser.
"I hope today is but a first step for many volunteers to become more engaged in Bay stewardship," CBF's Council added. "We all must double-down on efforts to reduce less visible pollution harming the Bay—the excess nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment targeted by the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint, the regional plan to restore the Bay and its rivers. If we do not, we will continue to have dirty waters, human health hazards, and an economy that cannot reap the rewards of a healthy Bay."
Since 1989, Clean the Bay Day has engaged approximately 140,000 volunteers who have removed more than 6.2 million pounds of debris from more than 6,500 miles of shoreline.