Volunteers Needed for Beach Sweep

Five groups will clean the ocean shoreline
Durell Godfrey

    Increased litter on East Hampton’s beaches, which apparently has followed the growing tide of summer visitors, has prompted Dell Cullum, a photographer and wildlife specialist, to do something about it. In addition to alerting local officials to the problem, last summer he made and posted a short film on Facebook about the accumulated debris on the beaches and the East Hampton Village Nature Trail, “The Sad Truth: Summer In the Hamptons.” He had planned to lead a an ambitious beach clean-up effort in cooperation with the East Hampton Town litter committee this weekend, but due to the buildup of snow and ice, has postponed the cleanup until Saturday, Feb. 15, starting at 9 a.m. "Our volunteer sign-up was extraordinary," Mr. Cullum wrote in an email Friday morning, "and rather than waste the efforts of such wonderful volunteers, I prefer to wait so we can  properly and thoroughly accomplish our mission." (Mr. Cullum is one of The Star's contributing photographers.)

    Five groups will sweep the ocean shoreline. Group One will meet at Georgica Beach and comb the sands from there to Two Mile Hollow Beach. Group Two will start at Napeague Lane and sweep west to Two Mile Hollow. Group Three will also start at Napeague Lane, but head east to the campground at Hither Hills State Park in Montauk. Group Four will start at Kirk Park Beach in Montauk and head west to the campground. Group Five will start at Montauk Point and sweep west to Kirk Park.  Bags and gloves, provided by the town, will be distributed at each site.

    Those wishing to participate can go to Mr. Cullum’s website, imaginationnature.com, and click on the “Shoreline Sweep 2014” button for information and to sign up. The page will be updated right up to the event’s 9 a.m. start.

    The idea for a beach cleanup on this scale, Mr. Cullum said, came from his having lived in a wooded area in Tuxedo, N.Y. An eight-mile stretch of road with “Adopt-a-Highway” signs bearing various corporate names was never tended to, he said, making the signs “more like an ad for these companies.” Mr. Cullum spent a year cleaning the stretch himself. “I got the signs removed, and a really nice letter from Bernadette Castro,” the former commissioner of the New York Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. “I knew that with a minimal amount of resources, you could still pull off a big project.”

    Mr. Cullum has enlisted Deborah Klughers, an East Hampton Town trustee who is the chairwoman of the town’s litter committee, and Supervisor Larry Cantwell has endorsed the project. Mr. Cantwell, who had pledged at a candidates’ meet-and-greet in the fall to help address litter, will participate in the cleanup, Mr. Cullum said. “He’s a man of his word.”

    At the trustees’ meeting on Jan. 28, Ms. Klughers relayed plans for the cleanup to her colleagues and got them to agree to collect the bagged trash with the trustees’ truck. Ms. Klughers, Mr. Cullum said, “is a very big environmentalist. I applaud her work. Because she’s doing this, I told her I would become part of the litter committee.”

    Volunteers will separate out the recyclables from the trash so that data on the type of debris found on the beaches can be collected. Group leaders are still needed to hand out supplies and tally results, Mr. Cullum said, as are donations of warm beverages for the volunteers.