David Johnson, award winning environmental crusader, formed The Coastal Steward in May 2005.
The Coastal Steward’s focus is environmental restoration. Johnson is very excited about the Adopt-A-Beach program. According to Johnson, “The Coastal Steward program is needed, and it's time has come.”
Anyone can get involved in the Adopt-A-Beach or the Sponsor-A-Beach programs. Individuals, businesses, civic organizations and government agencies can all sponsor or adopt a beach. Beach cleanups generally cover up to a half a mile of beach by fifty feet and and are scheduled depending on breeding seasons, weather, tides and other factors.
Johnson has a long record of implementing successful environmental initiatives. He has organized the Port Jefferson Harbor Annual Beach Cleanup since 1989 and is responsible for removing over 404 tons of debris from the harbor and Long Island beaches including the Long Island Sound. (make Long Island in blue). He has also initiated and directs a shellfish restoration project since 2000 and is responsible for releasing over 525,000 adult shellfish into Port Jefferson and Mt. Sinai Harbors.
At the Helm
Updates from Captain Dave
As usual there are a lot of great things going on at Coastal Steward. It still amazes me how much we are able to accomplish. This year we have set records in our Adopt-A-Beach and Shellfish Restoration Programs. We also have several new sponsors.
The 2013 Shellfish Restoration Program is winding down with only two more days scheduled, October 12th and 26th. There is still a lot to do and we can use all the volunteers we can get to finish off a tremendous year. We will be dropping 16 racks of our oysters down for the winter along with about 50 racks of oysters for the Town of Brookhaven. Then we need to clean and put everything away for next season and survey some of the oysters we have released over the years to check on survival and growth.
This season we released approximately 200,000 oysters that we raised from larvae last year. We had as expected mixed results on survival of the oysters we started from larvae. We had some really beautiful clusters of oysters and some puzzling mortality. The oysters we grow are disease resistant, but that does not guarantee survival, there also seemed to be an increase of predators (oyster drills, sea stars aka starfish and crabs) which was expected since the population of oysters in Mt. Sinai Harbor has increased partially because of our efforts. That brings the total number of oysters that we have released since the start of our program in 2000 to approximately 575,000. Based on the fact that an adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, the oysters we released could be filtering almost 29 million gallons of water per day and that does not include what the millions of offspring are filtering. We are hearing people complaining that “their boats have all of these oysters on them that they never had before”, frankly that sounds great to me, and it means that our efforts of bringing back the oyster population is working. Our local baymen have also seen an increase in harvests. It is estimated that 800,000 oysters are being harvested from harbors of Port Jefferson and Mt. Sinai were we release them each year for the last three years. That also means that it generated about one million dollars to the local economy for the last three years and from what we are seeing almost every oyster has the genetic marker we use of black stripes. It makes me very proud to see these oysters making a come back, knowing that we had something to do with it.
The Adopt-A-Beach Program (AABP) has two more beach cleanups both scheduled for October 19th. One of them at Centennial Park in Port Jefferson Harbor which is being sponsored by the Morrison Foundation and the other beach cleanup is in Old Field and is being sponsored by the Hermannsen and Wang family. At the beach cleanup we had on September 21st which was co-sponsored the Villages of Port Jefferson and Belle Terre, we had 100 volunteers help remove 4.76 tons (9,540 lbs) of garbage from Port Jefferson Harbor and Long Island Sound. Included in that weight were 17 syringes, 129 bio disks, 38 drug bags (small zip lock bags) and 29 heat exchanger cleaners. The Town of Brookhaven provided two 4x4 pickup trucks and two dumpsters and Suffolk County provided a Port-a-potti and one truck. This brought the total numbers for the season so far to 533 volunteers, 65.87 tons (a new record), 24.15 miles of beach cleaned, 233 syringes ( a new record), 299 drug bags, 1,516 bio disks (released from a sewage treatment plant in Mamaroneck, NY three years ago) and 136 heat exchanger cleaners. For more details on what we have removed, go to the website and look under AABP Data. That also brought the number of tons of garbage removed from Long Island beaches to 404.87 or 809,740 lbs since we started. Super storm Sandy had a lot to do with the record amount of weight and the heroin epidemic can be confirmed by our data.
During the past four years we have seen a huge increase in the number of syringes on the beach. In 2010 we found 34, in 2011 we removed 79, last year we got 109 and this year so far we removed 233. The syringes we are finding are only a small portion of what is being dumped onto streets, parking lots and public places. We all need to urge our politicians to include a exchange policy with the free syringe programs and to focus more funding for drug rehabilitation programs. We also need to install smaller mesh screens in our sewage treatment plants because the syringe tips (needles) are getting through and they make up over half of the number of syringes that we are finding. It has gotten to the point were I now must walk the beach prior to a cleanup to look for and remove as many syringes as I can to minimize the risks to our volunteers.
We have started a “Truck Fund” to purchase a four wheel drive pickup truck. The Coastal Steward currently does not own one and have depended on volunteers to supply them for the beach cleanups and transporting the boats and supplies. Our goal is $35,000 to purchase a new truck. All donations are tax deductible and major sponsors of $5,000 or more are entitled to having their company or name on the sides of truck as major supporters. This truck is critical to our programs and we hope to get it soon.
The Coastal Steward has a new major sponsor, The Educational Projects Foundation. Their donation will sponsor the development of an educational program that can be incorporated into the curriculum at elementary, high school and college level classes. We are inviting teachers input in developing it and there will be a small stipend for five of them. There will also be a $1,000 prize to students who come up with a 30 second commercial or film regarding the Coastal Steward programs.
The End of the Season Party December 5th from 6:30 – 9:30 pm at the Port Jefferson Village Center. There will be door prizes, raffles and our famous oyster recipe contest. This is always a great time and our thank you to all of our volunteers and sponsors for their support.
If you want to get involved and help, here are a few of the things we need help with:
- working on the boom boat, painting, fiber-glassing, wood work and installing the engine, electronics and boom
- developing our business plan - 1yr/ 3yr/ 5 yr plan
- volunteer outreach coordinator
- intern opportunities
- grant writers
- fund raisers
If you are interested, please contact me, David Johnson at 516 946-6560 or email@example.com.