Veterans group leads beach cleanup at Floyd Bennett Field

Clean it up: Wounded Nature, a veterans environmental group, led a cleanup of the beach along Floyd Bennett on May 12.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

This beach needed to wash up!

A group of veterans led other volunteers as they hauled pieces of debris, heaps of trash, and even an old rowboat off a Marine Park beach on Saturday. The leader of the group that organized the effort says that while many beach cleanups focus on trash, this one is also about the heavy duty stuff.

“A lot of beach cleanups target tourist litter,” said Rudy Socha, chief executive officer of Wounded Nature. “No one else goes after large items unless there’s a concentrated effort.”

South Carolina-based Wounded Nature is a group founded by military veterans that works to clean up the environment. On May 12, Socha, who served in the Marine Corps, led more than 100 volunteers from the party supply chain Party City, their affiliates, some Naval Sea Cadets, and a local team from the National Parks Service in cleaning Raptor Point, a coastal area at Floyd Bennett Field. Socha assisted during the cleanup in Jamaica Bay following Hurricane Sandy, and said some of the area’s beaches have as much clutter today as they did back then.

“We’ve seen debris items like this down here before,” he said, referring to his trip in March 2013. “Upon return, that’s still the case.”

Socha regularly organizes trips enlisting corporate and other volunteers to clean parts of the coast around the country. He said that in Marine Park large pieces of debris — especially wood treated with preservatives — can have a negative effect on wildlife.

“Debris forms barriers and wildlife can’t make it down during low tide to feed,” he said. “This looked like a place that could use a clean up.”

Floyd Bennett Field isn’t the swimming destination other beaches in southern Brooklyn are, but it’s still worth making it presentable, according to a local National Parks Service leader.

“People in boats go by,” said Keith White. “It looks more pleasant to see a national park maintained and kept.”

White works for the Gateway National Recreation Area, a national park that includes parts of Jamaica Bay.

The group removed more than a ton of trash and debris from the area, according to White.

Reach reporter Adam Lucente at alucente@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow him on Twitter @Adam_Lucente.

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