Paddlers Clean Up Sagamore Creek

Rainy drizzle didn't stop these intrepid paddlers

June 19, 2018
Paddlers Clean Up Tidal Creek in Portsmouth New Hampshire

Paddlers Clean Up Tidal Creek in Portsmouth New Hampshire

Overcast skies and some rainy drizzle didn't stop our intrepid group of paddlers from taking to the water for a coastal trash clean up on Friday, June 15.

“There is so much trash along the shores of our coastal rivers and bays,” said Great Bay Piscataqua River Waterkeeper Melissa Paly. “Some of it is intentional, but a lot washes in with the tide, or gets into our waterways from storm drains.”

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests joined forces with Melissa, who runs the waterkeeper program through the Conservation Law Foundation, and Bill Downey, owner of Portsmouth Kayak Adventures, to host the clean up event. Volunteers came by land and by water early Friday morning to help care for Sagamore Creek. While we gathered for coffee and snacks at Portsmouth Kayak Adventures on Wentworth Road, Melissa explained the plan to clean up the shores and islands leading out to Little Harbor before heading back up stream toward the marshes.

Melissa Paly Great Bay - Piscataqua Waterkeeper
Melissa Paly, Great Bay - Piscataqua Waterkeeper

The paddlers split into two groups and set off to collect trash. I joined Melissa on the Great Bay — Piscataqua Waterkeeper boat so that we could navigate between volunteer groups. As we encountered each paddler we exchanged empty mesh bags for full ones and pulled larger pieces of debris onto the boat.

One of the first stops was Creek Farm, a beautiful historic property and 35-acre forest reservation that the Forest Society owns and manages along Sagamore Creek. All summer long we are teaming up with local organizations to help care for and celebrate the beauty of this coastal hideaway. To get involved and learn more visit our Summer at Creek Farm page.

Paddlers pulled up to shore and found mostly small pieces of trash that often accumulate after each tide. One of the larger items included a rubber tire. After scratching their heads on how they could get it on to the Waterkeeper boat, a woman who happened to be visiting the property offered to come back with her truck to take it away. By the time we were done with the clean up the tire was gone.

Paddlers explore historic Creek Farm in Portsmouth New Hampshire
Paddlers at Creek Farm

Overall, about 15 volunteers helped collect multiple contractor-sized garbage bags of trash. Items included things like glass, plastic straws, rope, old cans and bottles, and some fairly large pieces of foam. I learned that the foam like those shown in below typically come from old docks. If left in the estuary, large chunks of foam will break down into smaller and smaller pieces, making it harder to collect and more likely to get ingested by marine wildlife.

Volunteer comes up with creative way to tow trash in a kayak
Some volunteers came up with creative way to tow trash with a kayak

Many thanks to the volunteers for their hard work and smiles on gloomy day. We also wouldn't have been able to do this clean up without Melissa and the Conservation Law Foundation's leadership as well as the support of Portsmouth Kayak Adventures. I hope you'll explore more photos and the one-minute video showing the volunteers in action, below.

A volunteer explores one of the islands at the mouth of Sagamore Creek

Marsh grasses at the mouth of Sagamore Creek
Collecting trash in the marsh

Collecting trash in Portsmouth New Hampshire
The scenery was lovely even with gray skies

Volunteers collect trash as part of a kayak clean up in the Seacoast
Volunteers paddling just offshore from Creek Farm

Kayak paddler in Portsmouth New Hampshire

Big trash collected at the mouth of Sagamore Creek in Portsmouth New Hampshire
Our biggest trash finds of the day

Volunteers collect trash in the estuary in Portsmouth

Melissa Paly and volunteer with the Great Bay — Piscataqua Waterkeeper boat
Unloading the Waterkeeper boat at the end of a great morning