With Council of the Great Lakes Region, State Parks
√ NOAA grant to fund trash traps complements volunteer cleanups around region
Article and Photo by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has launched the trash-trapping, in-water cleanup technology Seabin for a second season at Buffalo Harbor State Park, in partnership with the binational Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) on behalf of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup, and with New York State Parks.
This is the second season for the installation of this innovative trashing/trapping device at the water’s edge of Buffalo Harbor State Park – a new tool for Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper’s efforts to prevent garbage from polluting our region’s waterways. Waterkeeper will be holding a series of “deep dives” with volunteers at the Seabin to collect and analyze the litter captured, and educate participants on how they can prevent plastic pollution in our watershed.
Funded by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine debris program to CGLR on behalf of the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup, a joint initiative of CGLR and Pollution Probe, Canada’s longest-standing environmental organization, the device complements Waterkeeper’s existing on-land and on-water cleanups, while allowing the organization to collect important data on the types of debris trapped, and engage volunteers in marine debris solutions.
“Our group-led and solo sweep cleanups have been very effective programs for us, inspiring volunteerism and removing large amounts of unhealthy and unsightly debris from our waterways. Trash-trapping in the water complements those on-the-ground efforts,” Executive Director Jill Jedlicka explained. “This project with the Council of the Great Lakes Region and New York State Parks expands our water stewardship model and prevents even more trash and debris from reaching our beloved Great Lakes. We are grateful to our partners and to the NOAA marine debris program for funding the installation of the Seabin technology at Buffalo Harbor State Park.”
Marine debris is threatening the Niagara River marine environment, which is shared by Canada and the U.S., and encompasses the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, the town of Fort Erie, the eastern edge of Lake Erie, the Niagara River Area of Concern, the Buffalo River Area of Concern, the western edge of the Erie Canal, land and water of cultural significance for the Haudenosaunee and descendants of African American freedom seekers, lake sturgeon spawning habitat, and a migratory bird route recognized as internationally important.
This past April, Waterkeeper collected nearly nine tons of trash in a single morning region-wide cleanup event from shorelines across the Niagara River Watershed. Eighty percent of trash collected was plastic, the most prominent pollution threat to our Great Lakes.
“Marine debris can harm our communities, local economies, waters and wildlife,” said Sarah Lowe, Grant Management Specialist for the NOAA marine debris program. “We are pleased to continue our support for the second season of using these trash-trapping devices to help remove marine debris from our Great Lakes.”
Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Western New York’s proximity to fresh water is one of our greatest assets, for recreation, for our economy, and for a healthy future. We’ve made great strides in Great Lakes and river cleanup, but protection of local waterways must be an enduring effort. Seabins, led by Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and backed by federal support through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, complement other activities and investments enhancing our fresh waterways for residents today and for generations to come.”
Mark Fisher, president and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region, said, “The opportunity to work with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper to expand the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup to the United States, thanks to funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine debris program, is an exciting partnership. Through this collaboration, we will be able to capture and clean-up more plastic litter in the Great Lakes, as well as educate coastal communities about how we can work together to reduce, reuse and recycle material waste.”
Buffalo Harbor State Park Park Manager Kenny Jessie said, "Another season is on the way, and NY State Parks is very excited to once again partner with Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper to help rid the waterfront and shoreline of micro plastics with the implementation of the Seabins at Buffalo Harbor State Park.”
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has also implemented a “Solo Sweep” program that encourages Western New Yorkers to clean up the areas around our waterways – and collect data that can be used to determine which types of trash are more prevalent to formulate better pollution prevention solutions in the future. Information on “Solo Sweeps” can be found at https://bnwaterkeeper.org/solo-sweep/. As volunteers did during this year’s “Spring Sweep,” “Solo Sweepers” are encouraged to use the Ocean Conservancy CleanSwell app to collect data during their cleanups.
More About Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper
Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper is a community-based nonprofit organization that protects and restores our waters and surrounding ecosystems for the benefit of current and future generations. For over 30 years, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper has been the guardian of Western New York's fresh water, protecting clean water, restoring the health of ecosystems, connecting people to the water and inspiring sustainable economic growth and community engagement. For more information, visit www.bnwaterkeeper.org.
The Council of the Great Lakes Region is online at https://councilgreatlakesregion.org/.
Find more about the Great Lakes Plastic Cleanup at www.greatlakesplasticcleanup.org.