The State Department of Environmental Protection is looking for volunteers for the next widespread Barnegat Bay Blitz cleanup set for this Wednesday, May 9th.

The DEP is spearheading the cleanup for a second time and local groups and volunteers are expected to join in. It’s all part of Governor Chris Christie’s plan to fix the watershed’s ailing health.

The first one was held on October 19th of last year. It was then that 2,400 volunteers including DEP Commissioner Bob Martin, cleaned up dozens of areas in the Bay’s 37 municipalities. Thirty-three of the municipalities are in Ocean County, and four are in Monmouth County. Volunteers came from far and wide from school students, seniors, environmentalists, local and business leaders and more. They’re hoping for a bigger and better turnout for this year and feel it should become a bi-annual event.

For several decades, the Barnegat Bay has been subject to increasing ecological stress, much of it related to storm water pollution. The cleanup will enable local residents and groups to become directly engaged in the Governor’s comprehensive restoration plan for the bay, which the Governor launched in December 2010.

Co-Chair Katie Barnett explains during the first one, “volunteers gathered 739 bags of trash plus 578 bags of recyclables. In addition, 3 30-yard dumpsters and 3 dump trucks were filled. This is vital to the Bay’s health and the health and wellness of those who live, work and play near it.”  Although the next cleanup is a little over three months away, organizers are currently accepting volunteers and community partners. Barnett talks about another important component of the initiative.

Barnett says “while it’s great to pick up trash and clean up the Bay, we are also doing this as education outreach. Everyone in the communities that surround the Bay need to know their impact. This goes for everyday living. People need to take responsibility, or the Bay would be in even more danger.”