On Saturday morning, March 9th, a small group of people were gluing together pieces of PVC piping in one of the classrooms at the Merrill Creek Visitors Center. Starting with a two-foot section of four-inch piping, volunteers attached a cap to the bottom, and then an elbow at the top. A threaded cap then screwed into the bottom, creating a sort of cylindrical trash can—well, recycling container to be more specific.
Cole Baldino of Trout Unlimited and Ryan Jiorle of the AmeriCorps New Jersey Watershed Ambassadors Program organized this project, which is aimed at reducing fishing line litter in and along the waterways of New Jersey. The idea is to install these containers at publicly owned, high-activity fishing sites with stickers to help explain that they are meant not for trash, but monofilament fishing line only. This is because it can be recycled and used in the manufacturing of other plastic products. And by disposing of it in one of these containers, the line can be kept out of the water and areas around the water, where it can endanger wildlife, negatively affect water quality, and take hundreds of years to break down.
Funded by the New Jersey State Council of Trout Unlimited, five volunteers constructed twenty of these containers before heading down to the Merrill Creek Reservoir boat ramp to watch Cole and Ryan demonstrate how to attach these containers to existing signage. At the conclusion, volunteers were sent home with some of the containers so that they could install them near their own fishing spots and oversee their maintenance, which involves emptying out any collected fishing line or other material. In addition, the organizers and volunteers hope this will create awareness about the littering problem near waterways in general. Preventing these kinds of materials from entering aquatic habitats will help improve not only their beauty, but also their long-term health.