Boughton Island, PEI (Photo by NCC)

Boughton Island, PEI (Photo by NCC)

One person’s trash is another person’s buoy

Conservation Volunteers Sue Scales and Barb Trainor hauling some of the buoys collected during the beach clean-up (Photo by NCC)

Conservation Volunteers Sue Scales and Barb Trainor hauling some of the buoys collected during the beach clean-up (Photo by NCC)

Written by Julie Vasseur, NCC's PEI program director

On August 13, 2016, I spent the day collecting garbage on Boughton Island, along with 11 volunteers, three staff from the province of PEI and one mussel farmer who joined us from Murray Harbour. Boughton Island is a nature reserve near Cardigan, protected for the benefit of the nesting piping plover, great blue herons and other wildlife. The property is owned by the province of PEI, but NCC played an important role in its conservation and still participates in the management and stewardship of the Island.

Although we used kayaks to get out to Boughton Island for the cleanup, you don’t have to use them. Even at high tide, you can work your way around the salt marsh to get to the beach. Visitors go there for excellent birding opportunities, and to enjoy the quiet retreat the island offers. By PEI’s standards, it is one of the larger offshore islands, and once was home to its own community, complete with a school house. Abandoned dirt roads on the island speak to a past that is gone, but not forgotten.

The cleanup on Boughton was part of NCC’s Conservation Volunteers program.  It’s a way for people to connect with nature, help wildlife, and meet friends, new and old. Our group picked up buoys — close to 800 of them. PEI has a lot of calm bays that are ideal for mussel farming, which requires the use of many Styrofoam buoys, and the buoys often get loose and wash ashore.

NCC has a connection with local mussel farmers in the Boughton Island area who help us recycle and reuse the buoys we clean up.

In total, we removed 1.6 tons of garbage from the shorelines of the island. With every shoreline cleanup we have, we issue a challenge to our volunteers: find the weirdest piece of trash you can. On Boughton Island it was a kitchen pot. The only prize is bragging rights, but certainly gives a fun element to the day.

I am convinced that these positive relationships, the determination of our volunteers, and the recognition that pollution is a global, human problem, will lead to clean beaches for the future. Although our Conservation Volunteers program has wrapped up for the season, keep it in mind for next summer — it’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and give back.

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