This week's Barnegat Bay Blitz proved a success, state officials said Friday.
Thousands of volunteers, including many from Southern Ocean County, gathered up and down the shores of the bay watershed to do their part to give the watershed a fall cleanup.
In Brick, volunteers included John Zingis whose group included several people who cleaned up a creek adjacent to the A.C. Moore store, as well as a Boy Scout troop whose members hauled trash out of a creek near the K-Mart store off Route 88.
In Toms River, an area draining into the bay was targeted off Windsor Avenue, near the Little League fields.
"Once again, the enthusiasm out here is infectious," said state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin, who participated in cleanups in Toms River, Point Pleasant and Island Beach State Park's Sedge Island. "These volunteers, many of them students, truly care about the future of Barnegat Bay and are willing to do something about it. I commend each one of them for setting an example for everyone who lives and works in the bay's watershed to follow."
Volunteers came from all 37 municipalities in the 660-square-mile watershed, which encompasses 33 municipalities in Ocean County and four in Monmouth County. Scientists have pointed to overdevelopment, pollution and runoff, as well as other factors, for causing the bay to decline from its heyday as a home to an abundance of shellfish, finfish and seagrass species.
Martin said the cleanup effort, part of a ten-point plan endorsed by Gov. Chris Christie to improve the help of the watershed, results in trash being collected that could otherwise enter the bay through the discharge of stormwater.
The numbers aren't in from this week's event, though past Blitz efforts have made their mark on the bay. The May 2012 event included 6,800 volunteers who collected more than 3,200 bags of trash and recyclables, filling 40 dumpsters.