On Friday, Nov. 8, 25 volunteers, including five volunteers from IQVIA in Durham, joined the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s staff and interns to clean-up debris and litter along the marshes and shoreline of Morris Landing Clean Water Preserve. The preserve is located in the heart of the very productive shellfish growing areas of Stump Sound, the perfect spot for oyster and shellfish restoration. The wildlife is diverse and plentiful in the area. Unfortunately, so is the debris.

Our dedicated volunteers successfully removed a total of over 500 lbs of harmful and destructive debris: half of which were discarded building materials like pressure treated wood. The remaining 250 lbs was made up solely of trash including plastic bottles, beer cans, flip flops, cigarette butts and more. Though they matched the construction debris in weight, these smaller, lighter items represent a larger volume and take up a much broader land area – potentially impacting more wildlife.

“My expectations for the marine debris clean up at Morris Landing was that we would not have a lot of debris to clean-up,” said Julian Coley, an intern at the federation’s southeast office. “Being at Morris Landing for a monitoring event only a few weeks back, I figured not that much more debris would wash ashore in that short of time span. But I was surprised to see that we collected 512 pounds of debris.”

Despite challenging conditions and the sheer volume of debris, our volunteers were unphased.

“It takes a very special type of volunteer to get down and dirty to retrieve the debris that is buried in and underneath the marsh. We were so fortunate to have a whole group of these folks that worked tirelessly to collect pieces in very hard to reach areas,” said Bonnie Mitchell, coastal outreach specialist at the federation’s southeast office in Wilmington.

We rely heavily on the resilience and determination of volunteers like these to keep this special place clean and free of debris. Thank you so much to our volunteers as well as supporters that make projects like these possible including our members, NOAA Marine Debris, Landfall Foundation and RBC Blue Water Project.