Idyllic early spring weather greeted scores of volunteers Saturday as the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association (EWPA) and Save the Bay hosted the annual cleanup at Stillhouse Cove in Cranston.
“It’s a phenomenal turnout,” said Barbara Rubine, president of the EWPA. “We’re doing a little bit of everything. It’s a pretty good start to Earth Day.”
Roughly a hundred people pre-registered for the cleanup, with many others turning out on the day of the event. In all, Rubine estimated there were at least 130 volunteers on hand.
Funding from the Narragansett Bay Commission helped provide supplies and tokens of appreciation for volunteers, and many other institutions and organizations lent their support.
The Rhode Island Yacht Club, three groups of Johnson & Wales University students, the Port Edgewood Marina, the Edgewood Garden Club, La Salle Academy, the Pawtuxet Village Association and St. Paul’s Church were among those represented. Mayor Allan Fung also made a visit, speaking with several volunteers.
A wide range of tasks were completed, including beach cleaning, creek clearing, sidewalk and street sweeping, weed removal, re-situating of plants and the cutting back of invasive vegetation. Following planting in the buffer zone between the marsh and the park in the fall, special steps were taken to avoid foot traffic along the restored banks.
The debris collected during the cleanup was picked up by the city on Monday and, through a collaborative Earth Day program through Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp., was disposed at the Central Landfill at no charge.
Stillhouse Cove, Cranston’s only salt marsh, holds a special place in Rhode Island’s history and natural landscape. In recent years, it has seen erosion and the loss of vegetation due to hurricanes Irene and Sandy. At the 2013 cleanup, a crane was utilized to remove debris that floated to the site during the latter storm.
Rubine said the scope of the annual cleanup has grown exponentially over the years, drawing a much larger community response. The involvement of young people, she said, is especially important to the EWPA’s mission and the future of the cove.
“You see a lot of young families here,” she said. “You’re nurturing an interest.”