Shoreline Swept of 3,500 Pounds

The inaugural Shoreline Sweep beach cleanup brought volunteers to the ocean beaches from Montauk Point to Georgica under sunny skies Saturday. Above, Supervisor Larry Cantwell, center, posed with Dell Cullum, the event’s organizer, and others at Napeague Lane in Amagansett. Durell Godfrey

       The figures are both impressive and disheartening. Twenty-and-one-half miles of shoreline and 84 volunteers in the former category. In the latter, 3,510 pounds of mixed debris collected and removed.
       After harsh weather conditions twice postponed Shoreline Sweep 2014, volunteers took advantage of Saturday’s bright sunshine and mild temperatures to clean the ocean coastline between Georgica Beach in East Hampton and Montauk Point.
       Dell Cullum, a nature photographer and principal organizer of the cleanup, pronounced the effort an unqualified success. Forty-seven bags and three truckloads of garbage were removed from the beach, he said. One-and-one-half truckloads of burned wood, and 65 pounds of dog feces, were among the items soiling the beaches.
      “It was surprising to hear that Group 5 [Montauk Point to Kirk Park Beach] said the stuff they removed the most by weight was commercial fishing gear,” Mr. Cullum said. But, he added, most of the refuse “seemed to be the same with all groups: plastic bags and balloons, Mylar and rubber, and lots and lots of ribbon.”
       Deborah Klughers, an East Hampton Town trustee and chairwoman of the town’s litter committee, said that some areas were more littered than others. On one stretch of beach on Montauk, she reported, were “cases of beer left everywhere.”
       “It’s really disturbing to think someone could have that little respect for their environment,” Ms. Klughers said, lamenting “the throwaway society we’ve become.” But, she added, “It’s not all that people are littering and there’s stuff flying out of trash cans. Much [of the debris] is coming out of the sea.”
       Mr. Cullum’s group removed 440 pounds of trash between Napeague Lane in Amagansett and the campground at Hither Hills State Park, at the west end of Montauk. “And that’s a desolate area,” Mr. Cullum said. “The summer motels are all closed.”
       Brian Byrnes, a recently elected trustee and the superintendent for the Windmill I, Windmill II, and St. Michael’s affordable senior citizens housing developments, participated with his son, who is 8. “We just had a great time,” he said of the participating trustees, also including Nat Miller and Sean McCaffrey, who provided a pickup truck for refuse removal. “The beach looks awesome. It was really a feel-good project, and I was happy to see all the school kids involved. Kudos to Dell and Debbie and everybody else.”
       Volunteers gathered at Hoie Hall at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Hampton after the cleanup. There, they enjoyed donated food and musical entertainment provided by Job Potter, Klyph Black, Lynn Blumenthal, Katherine C.H.E., Chuck Finch, Walter Noller, “Wolfman” Colvin Cumberbatch, and Victoria Firemark.
       Mr. Cullum said that participants have earned the authority to politely chastise those littering the beach. “Now we have the right to say, ‘Excuse me, could you please pick up that dog poop, because me and 83 other people spent a Saturday’ ” cleaning the beach. “We put our sweat and our time into it.”
       He said a short film documenting the effort would be broadcast on LTV and online. The message, he said, is that “something was done, things are being arrowed in the right direction, and start getting used to it. We’ll see if it works.”

Durell Godfrey
Durell Godfrey