September 17, 2015

RI Delegation Announces $194,800 NOAA Grant to Remove Marine Debris from the Upper Narragansett Bay

Providence, RI – Today, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced a $194,800 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for Middletown-based nonprofit Clean The Bay, Inc. to remove marine debris from the Seekonk and Providence rivers and Upper Narragansett Bay. 

For over 100 years, the Providence and Seekonk rivers and portions of the Upper Narragansett Bay have been dirtied by broken and abandoned pilings, wrecked vessels, docks, auto parts, hardware, appliances, and other trash.  This refuse harms local ecology and has rendered large portions of the waterways unusable to the public.  This funding will enable Clean The Bay to begin removal of pilings and other marine debris over the next several years.  The organization will also use the funding for outreach and to foster volunteer opportunities with community partners to further cleanup efforts.

“As a Rhode Islander who loves our Bay and beautiful rivers, and who understands how a clean, safe shoreline can promote jobs and economic growth, I’ve been a strong advocate for cleaning up these areas,” said Whitehouse, who, after federal agencies declined to take up the project directly, contacted Clean The Bay in an effort to find a private group with the ability to do the job.  “Clean The Bay will put this funding to work restoring a tremendous asset for Providence, East Providence, and other surrounding communities.  Congratulations to Captain Dresser and his entire crew on winning this important federal funding.”

“I commend Captain Kent Dresser and his team.  This grant will support a project that has demonstrated great success over the years,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who has worked with Clean Bays since 2005, when they were originally known as Clean The Bay, and has helped successfully provide $685,000 in NOAA grants to Clean Bays and its partners over that period.  “Cleaning up the Bay has important health and economic benefits for all Rhode Islanders.  Over the years, Clean Bays and their partners has removed tons of debris from Rhode Island waters and shores.  This federal grant will expand their capacity and help remove even more trash and refuse from our waters and prevent it from washing up along the coast.”

“Narragansett Bay and its tributaries serve as centerpieces for Rhode Island tourism and development, and are at the heart of our state’s natural beauty,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.  “Protecting and preserving our Bay and rivers, therefore, is an important issue environmentally and economically, and improves quality of life for all Rhode Islanders.  I applaud Senator Whitehouse on leading this effort and for his continued environmental stewardship, and I look forward to seeing the finished product when Clean Bays successfully transforms these areas.”

“I am proud that Clean Bays will be receiving nearly $200,000 through NOAA to clean up our shoreline and help create jobs here in Rhode Island,” said Cicilline.  “I congratulate Captain Dresser and everyone at Clean Bays on this exciting announcement, and I look forward to continuing to work with them on this important issue.”

“Thanks to the tremendous support of Senator Whitehouse and the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Clean The Bay will be able to undertake the next phase of a debris mitigation project that’s generations overdue on the shoreline of the Providence River.  The impact of the debris removal in that area will have a resounding positive environmental, economic, and social impact!  Our crews are poised to get started next month and work in the area through 2016,” said Kent Dresser, Executive Director of Clean The Bay.

Clean The Bay, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, specializes in removing marine debris from shores and waterways in the Narragansett Bay and Southern New England. 

Last year, with the help of a $50,000 grant from Newport’s 11th Hour Racing, Clean The Bay conducted a pilot program in the Seekonk River to test their equipment for safely removing wooden pilings embedded in the riverbed.  The results of that program proved Clean The Bay’s equipment highly effective, enabling the organization to pursue the NOAA funding.

This funding has been awarded through the NOAA Restoration Center’s Community-based Marine Debris Prevention and Removal Grants Program, which supports marine debris removal and prevention projects that benefit coastal waterways, habitat, and wildlife.  Through this program, NOAA has cleaned up over 4,800 metric tons of marine debris from our oceans since 2006.


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921