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Posted 6/6/2012

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By Pamela Spaugy
Norfolk District Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, Va.— Armed with disposable gloves, large trash bags and a desire to make a difference, 23 Norfolk District volunteers, family members and friends gave up their Saturday morning June 5 to join thousands of fellow Virginians in removing unhealthy debris from cherished waterways throughout the Commonwealth.

The district's eco-friendly team, organized by zone captain Kristen Donofrio, cleaned approximately five miles of Craney Island's shoreline, collecting 3,135 pounds of trash and approximately 1,150 pounds of non-bagged or bulky items.

The most unusual items found this year included a 50-foot tug boat rope, large pieces of scrap metal, a couch cushion, ball caps, a plastic doll, basketball, and almost a full case of unopened water bottles. The most common items found were plastic bottles and food wrappers, a change from previous years that included a ton of Styrofoam from crab pot buoys and coolers. Last year on Craney Island alone, 104 bags of trash totaling 2,392 pounds and approximately 1,450 pounds of bulky items were collected.

"Clean the Bay Day is important because individuals often overlook how simple lifestyle changes such as proper trash and chemical disposal can impact the bay. Data gathered from events like this remind us that we all need to be equally enthusiastic about maintaining (the bay’s) health as we are about using its resources," Donofrio said.

Since 1989, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has removed tons of trash from local beaches, shorelines and waterways during the region-wide clean-up effort. The state-wide initiative –organized by the foundation, in conjunction with municipalities, businesses and government agencies – work together to restore the Chesapeake Bay, its rivers and its streams. This year, more than 6,200 volunteers state-wide removed approximately 200,000 pounds of debris from 500 miles of streams and shorelines along the bay, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Last year, 7,430 volunteers removed 217,641 pounds of debris at 245 sites along 419 miles of the Chesapeake Bay.

With the increasing popularity of the annual campaign, last year Clean the Bay Day expanded beyond Hampton Roads to include eastern Virginia, Richmond and northern Virginia. Clean the Bay Day is one of the largest volunteer cleanup efforts in Virginia, involving thousands of Virginians working on foot and by boat along the Chesapeake Bay’s rivers and streams. "This is the fifth year I have participated in this event at Craney Island and am glad to see the amount of material collected each year has steadily decreased. This indicates to me efforts focused on restoring the bay and keeping it clean is having the intended effect," said Mike Darrow, chief of the district’s water resources division.

"It is great to see so many Norfolk District employees and their families volunteer their time to help clean the environment," Darrow said.

The Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area is a 2,500-acre confined dredged material disposal site authorized by the River and Harbor Act of 1946, and was constructed from 1956-1958. The federal facility is operated by the Norfolk District, Army Corps of Engineers and is used by private interests, local municipalities, and federal and Commonwealth of Virginia government agencies for the disposal of dredged material from Norfolk Harbor and its adjacent waterways, including the Elizabeth and Nansemond rivers.

Interesting Facts About the Chesapeake Bay

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is 64,000 square miles and has 11,600 miles of tidal shoreline, including tidal wetlands and islands. The watershed encompasses parts of six states. Approximately 17 million people live in the watershed; about 10 million people live along its shores or near them. It's the largest estuary in the U.S.

  • Formed about 12,000 years ago as glaciers melted and flooded the Susquehanna River valley, the Chesapeake Bay is North America's largest estuary and the world's third largest.
  • Chesapeake Bay is approximately 200 miles long and runs north-south from the mouth of the Susquehanna River to the Atlantic Ocean. Chesapeake Bay's headwaters begin at Cooperstown, N.Y., home to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
  • The Chesapeake Bay watershed (the area of land that drains into the Bay) is 64,000 square miles and has 11,600 miles of tidal shoreline, including tidal wetlands and islands. The watershed encompasses parts of six states: Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, as well as Washington D.C.
  • The average depth of the Bay, including tributaries, is about 21 feet. The deepest part of the Bay, "the Hole," is 174 feet deep and located off Bloody Point southeast of Annapolis, Md.
  • The narrowest part of the Bay, near Aberdeen, MD, is about 3.5 miles. The widest point - from Smith Point, VA, to Virginia's Eastern Shore - is 30 miles.
  • "Chesapeake" derives from the Native American "Tschiswapeki," which loosely translates into "great shellfish bay."
  • There are more than 100,000 streams, creeks, or rivers in the watershed, including 150 major rivers. One can reach a Bay tributary in less than 15 minutes from nearly everywhere in the watershed.
  • The Bay's skipjack fleet represents the last commercial fishing fleet to use sail power in North America.
  • Two of the five major North Atlantic ports--Baltimore and Hampton Roads--are on the Bay.
  • More than 500 million pounds of seafood is harvested from the Bay every year.
  • The Bay supports 3,600 species of plant and animal life, including more than 300 fish species and 2,700 plant types.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation Clean the Bay Day Norfolk District