Volunteers sought to keep Queens beaches clean

The city Dept. of Enviromental Protection is kicking off its annual beach cleanup program and is looking for volunteers.
Photo by Christina Santucci
By Mark Hallum

The city Department of Environmental Protection is looking for volunteers to monitor garbage on the waterways of Queens this summer in the interest of protecting wildlife, such as turtles, birds and fish.

Those who contact Volunteer Beach Floatable Program Coordinator Robert Gans will only be expected to devote 20 minutes of their time per week after high tide to watching the shorelines of Queens from Newtown Creek to Alley Creek and report back to DEP about where to target clean-up efforts.

What are “floatables”? It’s exactly what it sounds like — waterborne garbage that floats, ending up on beaches. It includes styrofoam, balloons and fishing line as well as raw sewage and medical waste.

“You do not have to pick up or touch anything. To become a monitor, you just need to record the various types of debris on your favorite beach or surrounding waters, once each week during the season,” Gans said. “Water pollution and trash is one of the most important problems affecting our watershed of the Long Island Sound between Alley Creek and Newtown Creek. Floatables are really important to be monitored and we serve as a first alert for the city.”

Gans, who grew up in Beachhurst, remembers better days for the city’s waterways. He recalled keeping a motorboat near his home, with swimming and fishing regular activities.

But now, signs warn of the potential danger in the water due to environmental concerns. These issues often restrict people from enjoying the coastline along some stretches. In fact, this is nothing new in most parts of the city as garbage pollutes beaches and waterways, endangering the well-being of marine life and humans alike.

Since 1998, Gans has been gathering a network of volunteers to help combat the problem of garbage on New York City beaches.

Volunteers will be given all materials necessary to monitor waterways, including letters of authorization and acknowledgement, Gans said.

Little Bay Park, Fort Totten, Douglaston, Alley Creek and Bayside Marina are key waterfronts, as well as College Point, Newtown Creek and the Whitestone Bridge Park, Gans said.

Those interested can contact Gans directly with Ozone Layer LLC at (212) 889-4216.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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