International Coastal Cleanup Day (ICC) is Saturday, September 16. The ICC is a global annual event that began in 1986, thanks to the efforts of Linda Maraniss and her Ocean Conservancy colleague Kathy O’Hara. The day aims to raise awareness about the problems that plastic pollution poses to our shorelines, our health, and our wildlife.
Also in 1986, the American Littoral Society’s first Beach Cleanup Coordinator was appointed to assist in coordinating cleanup events and data collection in New York state. Since then, ICC Day has grown to an international effort that remains strongly rooted in volunteerism.
During the 2022 New York State Beach Cleanup (NYSBC), 4,800 volunteers removed and documented nearly 32,000 pounds of trash and debris collected from over 184 miles of New York shoreline.
But more needs to be done and we need your help to do it! Anyone can host or volunteer to be a part of the effort from August through December.
This year, we have moved the registration process online. Fill out the linked form in order to become part of the NYSBC effort.
By Shane Godshall, Habitat Restoration Project Manager, American Littoral Society; and
Randi Rothmel, The Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions (ANJEC) Project Director
Shared from ANJEC REPORT – Summer 2023 (Begins on Page 4)
The need to restore tidal salt marshes has been brought into sharp focus as we grapple with the realities of climate change. Their ability to sequester carbon and mitigate some impacts from storms and rising seas has prompted federal and State agencies, local municipalities, and various nonprofits to put a concerted effort into the restoration of New Jersey’s salt marshes.
Tidal salt marshes cover over 200,000 acres of New Jersey’s coastal landscape, providing vital habitat for wildlife, maintaining water quality and helping protect people from storm surge and flooding. A 2017 study concluded that NJ’s salt marshes prevented over $400 million in damages from Superstorm Sandy. Inland flooding can also be reduced by coastal ecosystems that provide resistance to the flow of water during a surge.
Over the last century, however, parts of New Jersey, such as Barnegat Bay, have lost more than 25 percent of their salt marshes due to infilling and development. The NJ Coastal Wetland Law, while limiting this loss, has not sufficiently protected the coastline. New NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) coastal flood hazard area rules are anticipated as part of the Resilient Environment and Landscapes (REAL) initiative, under the NJ Protecting Against Climate Threats (NJPACT) program, to further protect the coastline.
Recognizing that a healthy ecosystem plays an important role in sustaining coastal communities, both people and wildlife, a NJ guidance document, “Building Ecological Solutions to Coastal Community Hazards,” was developed in 2017 by the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with a consortium of nonprofit organizations. This guide challenges and empowers coastal communities to consider ecological solutions through approaches that work with nature towards coastal resiliency.
Society wraps first year of environmental stewardship program with STUDENTS AT Cumberland Regional HS
This Spring, 9th and 10th grade students in Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources classes at Bridgeton, NJ's Cumberland Regional High School (CRHS) planted 1000 native pollinator plants, creating a 1-acre pollinator habitat on their school grounds.
The project, called Helping Pollinators Help Us: Creating Habitat for Climate Change Resilience, launched in the Fall of 2022 with funding from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Planet Stewards, led by Michelle Rebilas, Littoral Society’s Director of Education and Nicole Smith, CRHS Agriculture Teacher and Agriculture Sciences Academy Leader.
In the Helping Pollinators Help Us program, students became the conservationists as they learned about the threats to pollinators in the face of climate change and developed a strategy to increase pollinator habitat availability and connectivity on their school campus. The creation of the pollinator habitat was a part of a 2-year project that will engage over 120 students in conservation action in their local community.
For the first phase of the program, students studied the importance of pollinators and their vital role in food/agriculture and natural resources. They also learned about the decline of pollinators in the United States due to habitat fragmentation, habitat loss and climate change.
By Toni Rose Tablante, Habitat Restoration Technician
The American Littoral Society has wrapped up another horseshoe crab season on the Delaware Bay and it was an eventful one. Let’s recap!
But first, some background: the Delaware Bay is home to the largest population of spawning Atlantic horseshoe crabs, (Limulus polyphemus). The horseshoe crabs come ashore to spawn and lay eggs during the months of May and June, with peak spawning occurring during new and full moon events at high tide.
A female horseshoe crab can lay up to 4,000 eggs at a time, and up to 80,000 eggs per season. Horseshoe crabs are keystone species, playing a very important ecological role. Migratory shorebirds, like the threatened Red Knot, (Calidris canutus), use the Delaware Bay as a stopover during their migrations from the tip of South America to the Canadian Arctic. They rely heavily on the easily digested fats and nutrients found in horseshoe crab eggs to regain weight and fuel their continuing migration.
The Littoral Society continues to fight for the protection of horseshoe crabs, while working to restore spawning habitats.
The American Littoral Society is honored to be named one of the New Jersey Council of the Humanities (NJCH) Spring 2023 grant recipients. The incubation grant will support “River Relationships,” a story-gathering project focused on Camden residents’ experiences in relation to pollution of the Delaware River.
The Delaware River is a beautiful waterway that touches four states, flowing from headwaters in New York's Catskills mountains to the wide expanse of the Delaware Bay which borders New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Over the past half-century, the river has been brought back to life through cleanup efforts largely fueled by the 1972 Clean Water Act. As a result, the river is now a prime location for all sorts of recreational activity, while also supplying drinking water for more than 15 million people. This improvement was celebrated when American Rivers named the Delaware River its National River of the Year for 2020.
Unfortunately, sewage overflows and runoff pollution continue to create health risks for people who want to enjoy the river in the roughly 27-mile stretch from Philadelphia and Camden to Wilmington Delaware.
Summer is always the busy season for the Littoral Society's Operation Oyster and Shuck It, Don't Chuck It! (SIDCI) shell recycling programs.
More people at Jersey Shore restaurants means there are many more shells to be collected. But we're also busy with public events designed to highlight both the importance of shell recycling and the importance of local aquaculture. The Society and its partners recycle oyster and other shell for use in efforts to “reoyster” coastal waters through oyster reef restoration.
With the start of summer, our shell collection total topped 64,000 pounds or 32 tons, roughly the equivalent of one adult humpback whale. The vast majority of those shells are collected from the 13 participating restaurants (find them on our Shell Recycling page).
Most of our restaurant shell intake is managed by a wonderful group of volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, you can sign up on our website.