A large group of people gathered at Coconut Tree Bay in Murphy Town during the morning of September 18 to participate in a major cleanup. Friends of the Environment coordinated the effort to rid the area of a vast amount of trash that had accumulated over the last couple of years.
Volunteers included a variety of Abaco residents, including representative of the Ministry of Tourism, Wynsome Ferguson, the Director of the local Department of Agriculture, Josephina Curry, and many students.
Twenty three students from Smith Memorial School and ten from St. Francis de Sales Catholic School joined the effort.
Kristin Williams, Executive Director of Friends of the Environment, explained that the organization decided on that area as a response to a plea for help by Desmond Swain, who had already spent time and money to beautify the area by building a dock for fishing boats.
Armed with trash bags, volunteers scoured bushes for trash which was scattered liberally around the area. Cans, bottles, and foam items filled entire bags, as well as construction material and car parts which were piled deep among the casuarina trees. Following the coast closer to Dundas Town were big furniture items such as sofas, chairs, and appliance pieces that had been discarded. While some collected the trash, other students took notes and recorded how much of everything was collected.
Operating a bulldozer was Swain, pulling casuarina trees (which are an invasive species) from the rock beds along the shore. He also brought over four large dumpsters, donated by Timothy Roberts of Abaco Waste. By late morning one dumpster had been filled up while the others awaited the bulldozed casuarina trees.
Coconut Tree Bay, a peaceful area of Murphy Town along the coast used for a long time by fishermen, had already been the target of local efforts to be improved; the goal being to create a recreational area for family activities. A gazebo and restrooms were built a few years ago, coconut trees were planted, and cleanup campaigns had been organized, however the project was abandoned when the committee in charge dismantled.
During a short stay on Abaco on August 24, Senator Burrows, the Chairman of the Public Parks and Public Beaches Authority which has been mandated by the Government to find suitable sites for creating public areas, had visited Coconut Tree Bay to establish if it would qualify for this kind of project.
A total of 130 bags of trash were collected in addition to bulk items. The most common items collected were glass and plastic beverage containers and bottle caps.
Unusual items found during the cleanup included a toilet, window blinds, and piece of a turtle shell. A final tally of items collected at Coconut Tree Bay and other cleanup locations will be made available by Friends of the Environment in October.