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Water Stream Issues - Set 3 [ Set 1 | Set 2 ]
  Street, Park, and Beach Litter
  The Beach
  Abandoned Cars and Boats
  Cleaning Up

  Street, Park, and Beach Litter
The failure of our recycling and anti-litter laws becomes quite evident from the trash deposited on our streets, parks and beaches. We have alternate side of the street parking to allow street-sweeping machines clean up the litter. But litter is allowed to accumulate near many undeveloped properties, in many parks and beaches where sweeping machines do not operate. Without specific complaints about the no-man's-lands where litter and dumping persist for months, the DOS inspectors do not seem to be aware of any problem. There is a very unsettling trend in this city where city and federal government agencies have decided to abandon their responsibility to keep their facilities free of litter and dumping. The NYC Department of Transportation's adopt-a-highway program that now funds the cleaning of the roadsides of our major parkways is a prime example of a government agency deciding to orphan-in this case, the highway system-their facilities or infrastructure for someone to adopt. The results are mixed.

The City and National Park systems have turned to volunteers and WEP workers to pick up the litter and some dumping. City parks adjacent to affluent neighborhoods are generally well taken care of by "Friends of whichever park" organizations or private funding. In other parks, trash accumulates and dumping by contractors is a continuous problem.
  

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  The Beach
The annual International Coastal Cleanup attempts to address the litter that accumulates on our beaches and salt marshes. This is a major volunteer effort that identifies and counts of various categories of litter along our shorelines. The data acquired about the nature of the trash on our beaches is circulated among various government agencies and conservation organizations. Since the quantity of trash on our beaches does not show any signs of diminishing, one has to question what is being done with all the data about the nature of trash. The accumulation of litter on the shores of New York City is so widespread and rapid that the annual cleanup does not adequately address the problem. A better container deposit law (ten-cent deposit on all beverages) would reduce the litter by one third. But it is the monofilament fishing lines and plastic bags that pose a real threat to wildlife. These hazards could be addressed by an intensive educational program aimed at fishermen and boaters in general.
 

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  Abandoned Cars and Boats
The roads and waterways in our parks have provided easy access to isolated sites for joy ride car thieves and boaters to abandon their wrecks. They are stripped of everything of value and often set on fire, burning nearby vegetation in the parks. Although most of these park access roads have been gated, they are often breached or carelessly left unlocked. Car thieves and illegal dumpers seem to find the vulnerable gates very quickly. When notified, the police-if there is a license plate on the car-or the DOS will have the car hauled away. If the car has been driven into a salt marsh or fresh water wetland, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will not allow the car to be hauled out for fear of incurring further damage to the fragile wetland. Each car or boat remaining in a wetland can destroy and contaminate one to two hundred square feet of ecologically valuable wetland. There has not been enough cooperative prevention or enforcement on the part of the NYPD and the Dept. of Parks to eliminate or reduce this dumping of boats, cars or renovation debris in our parks.
 

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  Cleaning Up
Besides all the environmental damage done by litter, vehicle wrecking and dumping, there is general degrading of the value of our green spaces. The public is far less likely to support the preservation of a trash-filled burned out area of parkland than a clean aesthetically pleasing meadow or woodland. The state of our parkland reflects the value we place on them.

 


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