One sign of spring at Salter Grove is the flocking of volunteers to clean up the park and help make it more enjoyable for visitors and safer for wildlife.
For many consecutive years, Save the Bay in Providence has organized groups for two-hour shoreline cleanups on evenings and weekends.
On April 2, 28 enthusiastic volunteers braved a sunny but cold and windy day for the first cleanup of 2022. They gave the season a great start by hauling out 376 pounds of refuse. Items ranged from small plastics, such as water bottle tops and cigar tips, to large foam pieces of boating equipment that weighed more than 20 pounds.
The first cleanup of the year is typically a large haul because so many items accumulate during the winter months. Anything that wind and waves can move end up trapped in vegetation of the park or mired in the mud of the shoreline.
A second group came out on May 23, an event that was part of the Earth Day and Earth Week initiatives planned by Save the Bay at many locations around the state. On a chilly morning, 25 volunteers removed about 110 pounds of trash. The teams did painstaking work in the northwest corner of the park between Narragansett Parkway and the waterline. This area of the park was recently cleared of brush by a separate group of FoSG volunteers. This project revealed years’ worth of accumulation of small plastics — not heavy, but great in number.
This year, a number of new cleanup leaders are training at Salter Grove, a good sign that the efforts will be sustainable for years to come. Salter Grove is an important site for cleanups, both because of its rich ecological diversity and the number of anglers it attracts each year.
The next spring cleanup will take place on Sunday, May 22, at 9 a.m. Interested volunteers should register at volunteer.savebay.org before attending.
Salter Grove plays an important role in the struggle for the health of the oceans as one of the settings of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) organized by the Ocean Conservancy and Save the Bay.
Each year, volunteers around the world join together in both cleaning beaches and documenting the waste and pollution that they find. The Ocean Conservancy launched this project over 30 years ago.
Salter Grove is the site of three of the 30 ICC events this year planned by Save the Bay as the Rhode Island State Coordinator. The first took place on September 11, which also coincided with the National Day of Service and Remembrance commemorating the 2001 terrorism attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Another public volunteer cleanup is scheduled for September 25, and a corporate group will do a cleanup in October.
This year’s total is one event shy of the 2019 record, when Salter Grove hosted four ICC cleanups and over 70 volunteers.
Additional ICC events are happening around the state. Last year, even with the partial shutdown of activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, nearly 600 volunteers joined in the ICC, collecting more than 4,000 pounds of trash from Rhode Island Shores.
Top three trash items collected in 2020 RI International Coastal Cleanups: 11,662 cigarette butts 5,250 plastic pieces (under 2.5 centimeters) 2,623 plastic bottle caps Source: 2020 International Coastal Cleanup / Rhode Island Report & Call To Action.
The efforts of individual volunteers and Save the Bay groups have improved the trash control situation at Salter Grove, but more needs to be done. Food and beverage packaging left behind by recreational visitors and washed in by the waves still pollutes the area and poses risks to wildlife.
Volunteer efforts are gradually bouncing back with the reopening of normal activity in the state. The number of volunteers per cleanup has returned to a little more than 60% of the 2019 average.
Many long-time visitors to Salter Grove have commented on the how clean the park looks now compared to previous years. Besides the biweekly Save the Bay cleanups organized by FoSG member Andy Lohmeier and regular patrols by member Jason Major, we have Paul Joutras to thank.
As an employee of Warwick’s Department of Public Works, Paul is responsible for emptying the trash barrels in Warwick city parks. Ever since he has come on board, the barrels at Salter Grove do not stay full for long. Moreover, he picks up litter strewn by inconsiderate visitors all around the parking lot. Thank you Paul!
Community volunteers organized by Save The Bay and informal volunteers committed to keeping Salter Grove clean joined forces on September 1st.
Two more cleanups are scheduled for 2020: Saturday, October 3 from 3 to 5 p.m. and Saturday, November 7 from 2 to 4 p.m. Please sign up here and come enjoy the wonderful views while helping! No walk-ins please—due to Covid regulations, only signed up volunteers will be accepted.
Those who stayed to the chill end of the cleanup on November 25. Two of the three co-leaders (besides Trent Batson who took the photo) are in the picture: 3rd from left is Casey Gonsalves and 4th from left is Mary Newton.
Friends of Salter Grove has formed a volunteer Preservation Network to help keep Salter Grove clean and attractive. Save the Bay and FoSG have partnered on cleanups since FoSG started in 2016. But, in order to guarantee regular cleanups at Salter Grove, including during the winter months (when weather permits), we formed the Network in the past few months.