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Scene of a sandy entrance path to a New England beach at sunset alongside the wooden stakes of a beach fence

Massachusetts isn’t nicknamed “The Bay State” for nothing. With more than 1,500 miles of coastline, Massachusetts offers a multitude of attractions from sandy beaches to rocky shorelines and bustling harbors. Residents and visitors alike can enjoy the beauty in many ways, such as by spending the day swimming and sunning at a beach during the summer or exploring one of the many coastal trails available year-round. The sprawling coastline is certainly one of Massachusetts’s great assets.

As the summer comes to an end and cooler weather moves in, priorities shift as people start to focus on fall and winter activities. Rather than packing up the car to head to the beach, families pull out the jackets and enjoy apple picking and pumpkin carving.  However, just because the temperatures start to drop doesn’t mean we should forget the importance of preserving the beaches and coastline that beautify the Commonwealth and pack our summers with fun in the sun.

The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management is dedicated to balancing the impacts of human activity with the protection of coastal and marine resources in Massachusetts. As part of its efforts, the agency sponsors the statewide COASTSWEEP program, which has been running since 1987. Each year, volunteers join forces to clean up beaches, marshes, seafloor, and riverbanks through organized events held in September and October. Collecting items such as cigarette butts, food/beverage containers, plastic bags, fishing nets, and even old toilet bowls, volunteers help to rid the coast of the harmful trash and debris that have accumulated over the past year..

How can you get involved?

  • Volunteer your time to remove trash and debris from one of the organized cleanup sites in your community. Contact the cleanup coordinator for a selected site to let him/her know you’ll be joining their team.
  • Become a cleanup coordinator and organize a cleanup at a local beach any day of the week during the months of September and October.
  • Sponsor COASTSWEEP by donating supplies, services, or potential prizes/participant gifts.

Participation in the program has grown every year, and in 2012 more than 2,500 volunteers cleaned 139 miles of coastline and collected over 7 tons of debris! In addition to helping keep Massachusetts’s coasts clean and beautiful, COASTSWEEP volunteers fill out data cards to show what they’ve collected. The data cards are then sent to Ocean Conservancy in Washington, D.C. , where the information helps address and prevent future problems by enabling experts to analyze trends. Without the efforts of everyone involved in the COASTSWEEP program, the Massachusetts shoreline would look very different today. Consider joining in and giving back to the public beaches you enjoy all summer long so they’re beautiful for years to come!

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