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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, USA

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Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, USA
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Aidan80315



Registered: December 2018
City/Town/Province: Centereach
Posts: 1
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Last winter while walking along the shore of West Meadow Creek, Long Island, I came upon a hobbling, injured goose trying to untangle itself from monofilament fishing line. The bird was obviously in pain, but I did not have the means to approach and free it from the line. I felt helpless with no cell signal to contact someone right away and watched the goose enter the water. This incident challenged me to take on a project which will lessen the chances of incidents like this happening in the future.


Monofilament fishing line causes numerous injuries and deaths to wildlife of all kinds. It is actually a top killer of wildlife as far as garbage goes. For instance, the improperly disposed line often wraps around the legs of birds, gets swallowed by marine life, and strangles fledglings in their nests. The loose fishing line also causes injury to humans and boats. The line in the water can entangle swimmers, possibly causing severe harm, and could also get caught up in boat engines, potentially damaging them. The task to correct this problem took a great deal of research and approvals prior to even getting the project off the ground. My project needed to be not only beneficial at the moment, but be long-lasting and sustainable for future generations.


First, I needed further research on how the fishing line was currently being disposed of and how it was being recycled within Suffolk County, Long Island. Astounded to find out the line was often just placed in garbage cans and cannot be disposed of with our regular plastic recycling since it gets entangled in the machines, I made it a mission to address both issues. I decided to construct efficient fishing line disposal containers, place them in the ideal Suffolk County angling locations, and devise a plan which will ensure the containers are emptied on a regular basis and recycled properly.


Next, it was necessary to pinpoint the locations in the county that would benefit greatly by the installation of the containers. I collected and compiled data from the Ocean Conservancy, NYSDEC, and local wildlife organizations. After I found suitable locations, I felt it was important to not just build and install the disposal units, but to make sure the line once collected doesn't just end up in a garbage can. Often times people install these containers and they either get overfilled or the line is emptied from the bin into the regular trash. When inside an open garbage can, the line can easily be picked up by birds looking for nest material. Not having an effective disposal method when the containers are full really defeats the purpose, so I decided to reach out to community organizations and recycling facilities and ask for their assistance.


Once my proposal was fully developed, I met with my town, county, New York State State Department of Environmental Conservation, and state park officials. At the meetings, I discussed my plan and brought a prototype of the container. Seventeen sites were decided on as key locations for containers to be placed as long as each would be properly maintained.


Education and communication have played a significant part in my project. After conducting awareness seminars at community meetings and presentations at local Audubon societies, an overwhelming amount of support ensued. I secured commitments of local environmental organizations to maintain the bins once installed and connected with a Midwest recycling facility where the fishing line could be sent to, free of charge. Local home improvement companies and national PVC distributors donated the bulk of the materials and supplies to construct the containers. Once the materials and supplies were acquired, several volunteers assisted in the construction as well as the installation of the containers. Between the organizations, local government officials, merchants, and the volunteers who helped with construction and installation, more than one hundred people were involved in my project. Thanks to everyone's help, I have installed fifteen fishing line disposal units throughout Suffolk County in state and county parks, at fishing docks, at boat launches, and beaches with fishing access.


This project has several benefits. Use of disposal containers will decrease the amount of fishing line that ends up in birds nests, injuring marine life, humans, and boat engines. The containers are clearly labeled for their purpose and are located in prominent locations. Most anglers will use the containers, and the data I have taken since the containers were installed has proven that. The local organizations I have secured will service the containers and recycle the contents on a regular basis. The recycled line is used to make park benches and fish habitats. This is a win-win for everyone and everything.


I have grown because of this project. Enabling others to continue on with a project I have taken to heart gives it sustainability. Of course, I could travel around all over the county to check and empty the bins, but what happens when I leave for college? I needed to acquire the skill of networking with responsible organizations that would commit to this project, long-term. Empowerment of others through my leadership is a new skill I have proudly achieved.


Just a week after a container installation, one organization sent me a photo of all the line found inside. That was just amazing! While installing another, I was approached by a child inquiring as to what I was doing. After my explanation, the child went to look for fishing line, found a piece, and placed it in the bin. He smiled, and so did I. The experience of implementing this project has taught me that when a community works together, anything is possible. It brings the best out in everyone.


This project has inspired me to take on future endeavors in my community. Just recently, I have accepted the offer to sit on the Four Harbors Audubon Society's board as a youth member to help plan and implement ways to better the environment. At Caleb Smith Park, I will be a guest speaker at their upcoming environmental event. My goal is to continue to bring awareness of the importance of our actions and provide resources to my community to make it easier to make a positive difference for our precious world.
Date: December 24, 2018 Views: 761 File size: 20.8kb, 443.9kb : 1496 x 2256
Hours Volunteered: 179
Volunteers: 13
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 12 to 55
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 93425.95
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