Every year in September, the American Littoral Society and partners typically kick-off the New York State Beach Cleanup (NYSBC), which brings out thousands of volunteers to help collect and document litter on New York's shorelines.
The Society's Northeast Chapter has led the NY State Beach Cleanup (as part of the International Coastal Cleanup) since 1985.
This year may bring a delay to the start of the 35th Annual NYSBC, but the program's new coordinator is working closely with everyone involved to determine the best strategies for the work in light of ongoing concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
Lisa Scheppke, who has focused on marine debris removal during her time as Restoration Project Coordinator for the Littoral Society's Northeast Chapter, is taking over the NYSBC program from Natalie Grant.
Prior to this, Lisa has focused primarily on work such as the Jamaica Bay derelict boat and large marine debris removal project, which was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Fishing Line Recycling Program funded by the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.
Natalie's involvement with the NYSBC program began 20 years ago and she became state-wide Cleanup Coordinator in 2010. During that time she led the program from something that involved a few hundred people to one that in 2019 saw nearly 10,000 volunteers pick up 63,000 pounds of trash from 204 miles of shoreline.
"Natalie has done amazing work with the New York State Beach Cleanup program for the past 10 years," Scheppke said. "It is an honor to take up where she is leaving off in the effort to keep the state's beaches clean for the creatures that call them home and the people who enjoy visiting."
From its grassroots beginnings with 100 volunteers at four sites in NYC, the program now supports beach cleanups across New York State, from the lakes in upstate New York to the Hudson River shorelines and from the beaches of Long Island to the NYC Metro region.
Many engaged citizens have made this effort a success: from local schools and churches, boating groups, environmental organizations, Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups, veteran organizations, civic associations and families.