Volunteers needed for Clean the Bay Day effort at Pax

A few of the volunteers from a previous Clean the Bay Day pose alongside the trash and debris picked up that year. Since 2014, volunteers have cleaned up approximately 3,000 pounds of waste from NAS Patuxent River’s shoreline.

Volunteers with base access — civilian and military — are needed to participate in the annual Clean the Bay Day event June 1-3 by helping to pick-up trash and debris along the shoreline of NAS Patuxent River.

The DoD Chesapeake Bay Program aims to protect the Chesapeake for military readiness, for our communities, and for future generations. DoD installations encompass 400,000 acres across the region, making up approximately one percent of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and participation in efforts such as Clean the Bay Day demonstrates the Navy’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

In 2019 (the 2020 event was cancelled due to COVID-19), volunteers picked up an estimated 425 pounds of trash, much of it comprising Styrofoam and plastic bottles. The biggest items removed were two tires, a cooler, and a crab pot. The most unusual item was a workout bench.

“Since we started in 2014, we’ve collected an average of 500 pounds an event, so we’ve probably cleaned up about 3,000 pounds of trash [from Pax River’s beaches],” said Capt. Molly Boron, PMA-208 program manager, and organizer of the Pax event.

While the wind and tide washes some of the debris up onto Pax River’s shorelines, a certain amount originates from users onboard the station.

“Discarded fishing gear, worm containers, shotgun shells, plastic and polystyrene coolers, plastic cups, large capacity liquid containers, and even broken furniture are some of the recurring trash items found on our shoreline,” Boron noted. “These items disrupt and harm local waterfowl, fish and turtle nesting. Consumption of small plastics fills the stomachs of wildlife, and they may eventually starve to death [from malnutrition]. Additionally, fishing line and crabbing gear can entangle, snare and ultimately kill both birds and marine life.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, mismanaged trash can travel throughout the world’s rivers and oceans and harm physical habitats, transport chemical pollutants, threaten aquatic life and wildlife, and interfere with human uses of river, marine and coast environments.

“This region prides itself in a ‘salt life’ culture, the luxury of enjoying clean beaches, eating what’s pulled from our local waters, and water sports that assume ecologically stable bodies of water,” Boron added. “Responsible use and care of these natural resources is everyone’s responsibility, and whether realized or not, is in everyone’s best interest.”

Locations to be cleaned up will include the shoreline at East Patuxent Basin, Fishing Point, the Beach House, Hog Point, and Cedar Point Beach pavilion.

“Because some of the shoreline needing attention is in high grass, I recommend volunteers wear long pants, sturdy shoes, and gloves,” Boron said. “They’ll already be wearing smiles because they’ll know they’re actively doing something to beautify our environment and protect the natural habitat from a negative ecological cycle.”

Clean the Bay Day will take place on Tuesday, June 1 from 3:30-5:30 p.m.; Wednesday, June 2 from 7-8:30 a.m.; and Thursday, June 3 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. To volunteer, or for more information, contact Boron at molly.boron@navy.mil, or Chief Yeoman Priscilla Nelson at 301-995-7064.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation states that 18 million people live, work and play in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and each of us directly affects the local streams, rivers and bay. What will your impact be?