La Salle Students Plan Community Service

Leya Mohan, a senior at La Salle Academy, organized members of the Environmental Action Club for the tour. She is admiring the deeply-furrowed and reddish-brown trunk of the dawn redwood in the park.

FoSG volunteers Marina Wong and Joan DiSanto gave a tour of Salter Grove on October 16th to members of the Environmental Action Club from La Salle Academy (Megan Chan, Kendall Leishing, Leya Mohan, Aidan Murray, and Mia Swenson) so they can assess how to dedicate their community service hours to help mitigate the environmental problems of the park. Several of the students were particularly interested in coastal and marine environmental issues. 

Students quickly realized that they cannot distinguished native plants from introduced plants just from looking so they were shown specific examples and readily learned to recognize poison ivy—a native even if noxious species! Of the 17 climbing plant species in the park, they examined how three of them used different techniques to reach the tops of trees. The students were also challenged to describe the arrangement of leaves, a key character used to identify woody plants. 

L to R: Kendall Leishing, Megan Chan, and Mia Swenson work out how to describe the leaf arrangement of the dawn redwood. 

The budding environmentalists from La Salle Academy also walked the length of the breakwater from the southern tip of Rock Island northward to Marsh Island while pondering how the breakwater and causeway have created three aquatic habitats where there used to be just one. They also saw first hand how some recent visitors like to leave trash behind to mark their visit on the breakwater. 

Little did these students realize how much effort had already been expended in trash removal during 2021 by numerous Save the Bay cleanups spearheaded by Andy Lohmeier, and frequent litter patrols by Jason Major, both FoSG members. The breakwater has actually not been so clean for a while!

Vanguard EAC members of La Salle Academy L to R. Front: Aidan Murray, Leya Mohan; Back: Megan Chan, Kendall Leishing and Mia Swenson, already with collected trash in hand. 

Nonetheless, and unsurprisingly given their concern for the environment, EAC members found the trash so unsightly on the breakwater that they would like to get the litter load even lower. So besides helping to manage invasive plants at the park, they would like to schedule a school-wide cleanup of the breakwater in November to close out the year. 

International Coastal Cleanups at Salter Grove

Save the Bay hosted a corporate cleanup event at Salter Grove in 2019

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.

If you are interested in participating in a public cleanup and at least 13 years of age, visit Save the Bay and learn how to register. 

2021 Cleanups Launch with Unexpected Flare

Warwick firefighters smother the smoldering debris 

April 10 marked the beginning of a new season of cleanups at Salter Grove as 14 volunteers collected litter and other trash that accumulated over the winter.

The volunteers were doubly valuable, as they also helped to spot a smoldering brushfire along the shoreline ridge, about 50 yards east of the parking lot. An expanse of ash stretched about 20-30 feet to the east.

Following a 911 call, the Warwick Fire Department quickly arrived to extinguish the embers and carry some of the smoking logs into the waters of the bay. The fire might have started during the night or even the day before, the firefighters estimated.

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First Formal Cleanup in 2020

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.

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FoSG Preservation Network and November 25 Cleanup

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.

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