Over the course of 15 days in April and May, United By Blue, the City of Burlington , NJ Department of Environmental Protection , Allied Recycling , Sea Tow Delaware River , River Services , AP Construction , and the Board of Island Managers conducted a cleanup of Burlington Island on the Delaware River. This was UBB’s first ever island cleanup and the success of this project is thanks to all partners involved.
As one of our most exciting projects to date, Burlington Island was also one of our most logistically challenging cleanup projects we’ve ever executed. The island has a rich history, once being home to an amusement park, summer bungalows, and the first settlement of New Jersey. After scouting the site and discovering old refrigerators, boats, tractors, and car frames rusting away, we knew we had to clean up this island in order to restore it to it’s natural beauty. Because of this dangerous infrastructure left behind, the island has been closed to the public for years. Although this is the case, summer adventurers continue to journey to the island to hike, kayak, and swim in the 100 acre aquifer-fed lake in the middle of the island. Our goal in cleaning up this island was not only to get all the old scrap off, which had been negatively impacting both the Delaware River and the lake on the island, but to also spark the reopening of the island to the public.
The first phase of this project was conducting a volunteer cleanup day with the NJ DEP, as part of the South Jersey Scrub. On April 10, 21 NJ DEP employees volunteered their time to clean up 1300 lbs of floatables, including plenty of single use plastics.
From May 1-16, we continued with our second phase - removing all the large legacy trash left behind on the island. In order to make this cleanup possible, an industrial barge was acquired to load all the large debris on. Heavy machinery was needed to remove old boats, Model T frames, and the rest of the debris scattered throughout the island. The Burlington Public Works crew worked tirelessly to complete the project despite obstacles such as rain and terrain that was difficult to maneuver through. Once the barge was full, it was transported back to the Burlington Boat Ramp and the debris was unloaded into dumpsters that were then taken to be disposed of properly.
This project was truly a team effort and was a success because of everyone involved. We are hopeful that the future of Burlington Island will be even more abundant than it’s past. Stay tuned for a full video recap of the cleanup to come later this summer!