Volunteers Come Together on Great Bay

Jeff Barnum

Last week, two dozen enthusiastic and very capable volunteers from Timberland joined me and other kayakers to remove debris from the shores of Little Bay. Staff from Seven Rivers Paddling in Newmarket supplied kayaks and expertise. Staging for the event was arranged by Sean McKenna at Great Bay Marine in Newington.

CLF Great Bay–Piscataqua Waterkeeper Jeff Barnum and unidentified debris. Photo: EcoPhography

CLF Great Bay–Piscataqua Waterkeeper Jeff Barnum and unidentified debris. Photo: EcoPhography

This was the second time that these groups have collaborated to clean up part of Little Bay – the upper part of Great Bay. Removing debris is the right thing to do, but the event is also a great way to introduce new people to Great Bay – a public resource and an estuary of national significance.

Several teams of kayakers focused on the shallow-water shorelines, gathering trash and large pieces of debris. They then ferried the trash and debris to deeper water for transfer to the Waterkeeper vessel and another operated by Zak Robinson of Rising Tide Anglers. The debris – all 24 yards of it – was dropped off at Great Bay Marine, where staff muscled it all into dumpsters for pick up by Troiano Waste Services of South Portland, Maine.

Today, when you look down on Little Bay from the Spaulding Turnpike, the vista is trash free.

We're going need a bigger boat! Photo: EcoPhotography

We’re going need a bigger boat! Photo: EcoPhotography

The amount of debris on the shores that we tackled was a little surprising. We collected more than twice what we gathered in 2016. Disintegrating  styrofoam was common. Where all the tires came from is a little bit of a mystery. Bags and bags of trash, plastics, and metal were retrieved and removed.

Only Goat Island, located in the middle of Little Bay, was in decent condition due to a cleanup last year. The Newington shore, because of winds and tides, seems to collect most of the debris. At the end of the day, time ran out, so some areas will have to wait for next year.

Great Bay belongs to all of us, and, given its importance, deserves better treatment. We will do it all again next summer and all of the volunteers are looking forward to 2017. I am extremely gratified to have the support of all the volunteers and businesses who collaborated to make the cleanup happen.

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