New Harbor Protectors Initiative Launched

Image Credit: Department of Environmental Protection

The Coney Island initiative recruits’ volunteers to assist in the effort to help protect New York City’s Waterways. On April 22, 2021, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza launched the new Harbor Protectors Initiative to clean up Coney Island. The program aims to recruit volunteers to assist in the cleanup of Coney Island through various methods.

Harbor Protectors are Department of Environmental Protection volunteers that sign up to assist in stewardship activities. Cleaning catch basins, stenciling educational information near catch basins, caring for gardens, and shoreline pickups are all methods that volunteers will be assisting with. The volunteers will help to beautify the area while also keeping pollution out of the waterways. Volunteers will be assisting the Department of Environmental Protection achieve their goal to protect and improve water quality across the five boroughs.

Volunteers sign up to participate in one or more of four activities.:

  • Clean Catch Basins: Catch Basins collect rainwater from streets and sidewalks. Harbor Protectors will help to remove litter from the over 144,000 catch basins within New York City.
  • Stencil Catch Basins: Harbor Protectors will stencil educational messages near catch basins to remind individuals to not dump waste there.
  • Care for Rain Gardens: Rain Gardens are built in sidewalks to collect rain water before it gets to catch basins. Harbor Protectors will help by removing waste from these gardens and helping to care for plants.
  • Participate in Shoreline Cleanups: Litter and debris commonly washes up on the over 520 miles of shoreline within the City. Harbor Protectors will help to remove trash from these shorelines.

The New York Harbor, one of the largest natural harbors in the world, along with the rivers, creeks, canals, bays, and beaches help to make up the ecosystem of the City’s five boroughs. Testing shows that the New York City water quality is the cleanest its been since the Civil War. Whale, dolphin, and seal sightings help demonstrate the water quality improvements.

More information, training resources, assets, event calendar, and an online registration form can be found here.

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza stated, “Earth Day is a perfect time for New Yorkers to recommit themselves to doing what they can to protect our shared environment. I commend our student volunteers who are working to protect Coney Island Creek and the local beaches and encourage all New Yorkers to become Harbor Protectors!”

President of the Coney Island Beautification Project, Pamela Pettyjohn stated, “Valuing our earth is a conscious, everyday action and we must convey this message to our young people as well as to some of our oldsters that they play an important role in keeping the earth healthy. When you nonchalantly throw your potato chip bags, your cookie wrappers, your drink container, etc. on the street, they directly end up in our waters. Think before we toss, down the catch basin into the waters and onto the beaches.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams stated, “Earth Day gives New Yorkers an opportunity to reflect on steps we can all take to make our borough and city cleaner, greener, and more livable. Climate change has increased the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, including storms and coastal flooding. It’s more important than ever that we engage local communities in maintaining and improving our city’s infrastructure. We were proud to partner with DEP in piloting the Adopt-a-Catch Basin program in 2016 to engage local communities on preventing flooding and improving water quality.”

By: Patrick McNeill (Patrick is the CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)


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