At regular beach cleanups hosted at both Centennial Beach and the Port Jeff side of Mount Sinai Harbor over the past two weeks, volunteers picked up over 4,000 pounds of trash and debris.
The Coastal Steward, based in Mount Sinai, has for years hosted beach cleanups in Port Jefferson and many other parts of Long Island. Pat Kuchicki, who heads up the Steward’s beach cleanup efforts, said the 1347 pounds from Centennial and 2,720 pounds from the edge of Mount Sinai harbor is actually a moderate number compared to some previous years.
Normally, the Coastal Steward hosts their beach cleanups after winter, to get all the debris washed up by fall and winter storms, but because of the pandemic the dates were pushed back.
The reason why there were less this year than last could be because of COVID-19, less people were going down to the beach or taking out their boats with friends and family, but Kuchicki said she thinks it may be more people are simply better aware of the need to keep beaches clean. In the intervening months, more people could have been stopping to pick up trash.
“I know definitely in Port Jeff the people are very good up there wanting to keep the beach clean,” she said.
Kuchicki said they saw a total of 60 volunteers come down to both cleanups. Both young and old, locals and people from miles away came down to lend a hand. Bill Negra, a volunteer with the Coastal Steward, said there were even a number of young women from a Hofstra University sorority who came down for one of the early October cleanups.
The Steward doesn’t just pick up loose straws and bottle caps, but anything not natural, including treated lumber or other construction debris.
The Village of Port Jefferson unanimously voted at its Sept. 8 meeting to pay the Coastal Steward $1,000 each for the costs of the beach cleanups at both the Port Jeff side of Mount Sinai harbor and at Centennial Beach.