(VIRGINIA BEACH, VA)—Thousands of volunteers across Virginia today took part in the 31st annual Clean the Bay Day, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) shoreline and stream cleanup and one of the largest volunteer events in Virginia.
CBF dedicated today’s event to those affected by yesterday’s shooting in Virginia Beach and held a moment of silence for the victims at many cleanup sites across Virginia this morning.“This tragedy is heartbreaking,” said CBF Hampton Roads Director Christy Everett. “Virginia Beach is the birthplace of Clean the Bay Day. Through the years the city has been one of our most important partners in restoring our waterways. Our colleagues and friends in that building worked tirelessly for clean water. We dedicate this Clean the Bay Day to the victims of the Virginia Beach shooting.”
Preliminary numbers show that in just three hours, and under heavy rain in many cases, approximately 3,500 volunteers gathered at nearly 200 sites across the state, on foot and in boats, removing an estimated 45,000 pounds of litter and debris over an estimated 250 miles of shoreline. Cleanups were postponed or cancelled in some areas due to thunderstorms around Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore. New dates for many of these sites will be scheduled, for more information e-mail [email protected].
“We had over 6,000 people pre-register for this event. That record-breaking number of RSVPs for Clean the Bay Day once again illustrates the groundswell of support in Virginia for clean waterways,” said CBF Hampton Roads Grassroots Manager Tanner Council. “This is how we meet our clean water goals—all of us working together for the common good.”
As usual, the most common items found during today’s cleanup were plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans, plastic bags, and cigarette butts. But volunteers recovered many larger harmful items, such as appliances, car and boat parts, dozens of tires, large blocks of Styrofoam, a 16 foot cattle panel and more.
Participants also recovered many strange items from rivers and streams, including vintage milk bottles, a fruit basket, half of a laptop, a keyboard, a 57 pound tire, a car grill, a stadium seat, a cowbell, a gold watch and a small amount of cash.
Cleanups were held at scores of sites across Virginia, including Hampton Roads, Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Richmond, Charlottesville, Shenandoah Valley, and Northern Virginia. All of Virginia’s state parks within the Chesapeake Bay watershed had cleanup sites. Many partner groups also joined CBF.
Among the thousands of volunteers were many elected officials, including Virginia Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources Ann Jennings, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Director Clyde Cristman, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, Rep. Rob Wittman, Sen. Creigh Deeds, Sen. Lynwood Lewis, , Del. Karrie Delaney, Del. Cliff Hayes, Del. Stephen Heretick, Del. Mark Levine, Del. Alfonso Lopez, Del. Kathy Tran, Del. Vivian Watts, and many local elected officials from all over the Commonwealth.
Many other community leaders, service members, Scout groups, small businesses, large corporations, and thousands of citizens all took part.
Major corporate sponsors for Clean the Bay Day include REI and River Network/Anheuser Busch, with additional support from Allegra Marketing Print Mail/Image 360, Coastal Virginia, Chesapeake Bay Roasting Co., CSX, Elastec, Pender & Coward, P.C., and the Port of Virginia.
Since 1989, Clean the Bay Day has engaged over 161,700 volunteers, who have removed approximately 7.1 million pounds of debris from over 8,000 miles of shoreline in Virginia.