Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jesus Lends a Hand...

Marsh area at the Silver Point Yacht Club in March 2010
Some of my readers and friends who I keep in touch with on another level besides the comment section of the blog know about a little project that I was trying to get off the ground about a year ago.  The project was the cleanup and restoration of a marsh area located near the Rocky Point Yacht Club or Silver Yacht Club, in Breezy Point Queens NY.  My interest in this area peaked in the summer of 2009, when I documented and photographed some birds that were lurking around the area. I wondered then, if cleaning up the area and making it more bird friendly would bring in more species.  In addition, the area was down right filthy and left me wondering what the heck had previous volunteer missions accomplished in past cleanups.  It was apparent that cleanups focused more on the beach front rather than the marsh area.  I began having discussions with veteran National Park Service VIP Tony Luscombe, whom I had met through the Piping Plover program at Breezy Point in Queens and we began exchanging ideas and e-mails on what could be done.  Around the same time, Don Riepe of the American Littoral Society had begun toying with the idea of creating a group to bring pressure on NPS with regards to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and its upkeep.  I challenged Don to get involved with this project in order to establish the legitimacy of his new group as well as the American Littoral Society as Coastal Guardians.  Don warmed up to the idea, but expressed concern on managing a sizable group and how to get debris out of the marsh area.   In the meantime, Tony had garnered the interest of volunteers who spearheaded by volunteer Shervin Hess began a process of cleaning the marsh whenever time permitted.  
Volunteers from the Church of God cleaning up the marsh.
On the week of Marsh 20th, I received word from Don that he was going to have available, a massive volunteer core, courtesy of the Church of God to help in cleaning up the marsh and asked for my assistance in leading the effort.  I was ecstatic and offered to assist in whatever capacity I could.  I remembered the group from a previous cleanup project at Plum Beach in Brooklyn and the impression they left with me was of a passionate group of people who gave it their all when they came out on that particular project.  March 20th came and the wave of volunteers showed up, over 300 hundred of them. So many, that Don diverted about 100 of them to Plum Beach to do some cleaning up in that area as well.  It was astonishing to witness the passion and energy that these church goers brought with them in cleaning up the marsh. 

The word of the day was "unity"!
With cries of "Spartans what is your profession"?  HA-OOH! HA-OOH! HA-OOH!  and giving praise to Jesus, the teams of volunteers worked together in removing massive beams, raking up garbage, and piling up mounds of wood, all in a matter of hours.  The word of the day was "Unity", it was AWESOME!!  Participating with these volunteers, I felt their wave of energy that seemed to engulf the area and I could not help but wish I had more birders/naturalists out in the field with us that day.  I was very pleased to see that this project had finally received the much needed help it required.  Too often, projects like this get caught up in bureaucracy and hubris with groups and individuals more concerned with accolades and the rule book rather than the greater good.  Tony Luscombe, deserves a lot of credit for continuing to work behind the scenes in getting initiatives like this to take root and I hope that the folks at the National Park Service, find a way to recognize his efforts.  What is next for this area?  Well, NPS Gateway National Recreation Area needs to formulate a plan to prevent  debris from being washed into the marsh or else all this work would have been in vain if a nasty nor'easter hits the area.  There is plenty to be done here and in many other areas that need attention.  In fact I have another project that I am setting my sights on, so keep checking back to learn more and if you could spare the time, then come out and join us when we cleanup around the Jamaica Bay area.  Just drop me an e-mail and I will add you to the mailing list.  Let me once again thank the volunteers from the Church of God who came out and put in a solid couple of hours in cleaning up the area and I hope to see you all on future projects.  Additional photos from the event can be seen here. Share with Bookmark and Share


PatB said...

Superb post - my faith in human nature has been restored! Cudos to you, the driving force behind this idea!

Che said...

As an atheist, on a weekend when I've been grumbling because some intolerant Christians in Florida have shown a kind of aggressive disrespect to others in a way that has gotten humanitarian workers killed in Afghanistan, I am thrilled to cheer for the good work of these Christians from the Church of God, doing the good work of looking after Creation.

This comment has been removed by the author.

@Che - thanks for visiting and your comments. Very interesting thoughts and I am very pleased you shared them.

The actions of the members of the Church of God could be summed up as an act of goodwill. Regardless if the group were believes in a higher power or not, the selfless act of taking care of of our environment shows a love and caring that goes beyond religious doctrine.


@PatB - Hi Mom, thanks for visiting. I appreciate your comments, but in fairness I think all the credit should go to Tony Luscombe who never allowed this initiative to die.