Urban Renewal in an Ecologically Sensitive Rhode Island Estuary
Clean Bays works to remove debris from 18 miles of shoreline and near shore environments in East Providence, Rhode Island.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program teamed up with Clean Bays to remove industrial debris from 18 miles of shoreline and nearshore environments in East Providence, Rhode Island.

Project Dates: July 2015 - August 2017

Who is involved?
With the support of a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant, Clean Bays removed industrial debris from 18 miles of East Providence shoreline and the navigational waters of Providence Harbor. Clean Bays also collaborated with community partners such as Save The Bay, Clean Ocean Access, Providence Community Boating Center and 11th Hour Racing to engage local volunteers in shoreline cleanups, data collection and monitoring work. Lastly, Clean Bays worked with Providence Community Boating Center to integrate marine debris education into the Center’s on-the-water STEM education program.

What is the project and why is it important?
The East Providence shoreline is cluttered with the remnants of maritime activity, mills, and steel and petroleum industries, leftover from its use as an industrial port. As the waterfront has changed, abandoned docks, vessels and industrial equipment have been left behind. In addition, this area has become a dumping ground for old auto parts, abandoned boats, hardware and appliances. The heavy saturation of debris along this 18-mile estuarine stretch is not only unsightly, but also presents hazards to navigation and detrimentally impacts the surrounding habitat and the species which rely on healthy, functioning coastal waters, bay habitats and watersheds.

This project removed about 165 tons of debris from 18 miles of shoreline, which is the first step in restoring approximately 350 acres of habitat. In addition to removing large debris such as abandoned pilings, a large derelict industrial barge, docks, and household appliances, the project engaged over 500 volunteers to donate 1,000 hours for shoreline marine debris cleanups, data collection, and monitoring work. The removal of this debris helps to implement a plan adopted by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council to revitalize the East Providence shoreline, which includes the creation of recreational areas where local residents can interact with the coastal environment.

For more information, visit the Marine Debris Clearinghouse.