Tackling Pollution and Defending Parks with NFL Stars and BNT Partners
By Elijah Sands
June 13th, 2022
Trash Cleanup is an Important Part of Conservation
Proper management of national parks includes things like frequent enforcement, visitor management, and natural resource management. The latter includes cleaning up trash, debris and other types of waste from parks. Even though this isn’t the most appealing element of park management, it’s just as important as any other aspect.
Sometimes debris and litter can end up in coastal parks from being washed in with the waves; but often, they’ve been dumped there illegally by people. A lot of this dumping happened before these areas were officially declared national parks. In the case of Bonefish Pond National Park, many different sites in and around the 1200-acre protected area have historically been used as dumping grounds. And even though this illegal dumping has decreased drastically (thanks to enforcement from the BNT and support from the surrounding communities), sometimes it still happens.
Recently, along with nearby community members, we’ve been making a concerted effort to clean up this area and keep a watchful eye out for anyone trying to illegally dump here. We always welcome volunteers to assist with these efforts, and we were fired up to have some NFL players and our corporate partners join us to tackle mangrove conservation on the frontlines. We started with a cleanup of the park’s northeastern boundary and finished by planting mangroves at the main Bonefish Pond National Park location.
Before everyone got their hands dirty, Executive Director Eric Carey shared inspiring remarks with the volunteer cleanup crew. As Eric celebrates his last year with the BNT, he was glad to loop this event into his Farewell National Parks Tour. During this tour, Eric hopes to engage the government, donors, partners, and supporters in BNT projects and initiatives, while showcasing and celebrating the BNT’s work and history.
By hosting cleanups in national parks, we are:
- Raising awareness about the damage being done to our environment by plastic and other forms of pollution
- Creating opportunities for people to take responsibility for protecting our oceans
- Reducing the amount of plastic pollution that reaches the ocean or harms wildlife
Planting Red Mangroves for Climate Action
After an impactful stretch of cleanup at the northern boundary, we headed back to the main Bonefish Pond location to enjoy refreshments from our corporate partners, and also to plant some red mangroves.
Red mangroves are one of the most important plants in ecosystem restoration and the fight against climate change. When mature, their strong, complex root systems create important habitats for many organisms and protect our coastlines from erosion and strong waves. Additionally, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their roots, branches, and sediment around them. They do this so well that they store 10-times more carbon than forests on land. This process, called carbon sequestration, is critical to slowing down the dangerous effects of climate change.
Coming Together for Conservation
World Oceans Day is held on June 8 every year. This day is an international celebration spearheaded by the United Nations to bring awareness to the importance of our oceans and the threats they face. This year’s theme was “Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean.” We know we must come together to protect the marine resources we all rely on. As the environmental caretakers of our national parks, coastlines, and environment, the BNT invites you to join us in taking collective action to protect our oceans. To support mangrove conservation efforts in The Bahamas, which in turn protect our oceans, visit: Support Mangrove Conservation.
We appreciated the exciting energy and effort from the NFL players who got their hands dirty to support this cause. It may have been a bit of a surprise to see the day’s clean-up location, but despite this, these superstars still showed up and played their role:
- Rashad Fenton – Bahamian Super Bowl Winning Cornerback of the Kansas City Chiefs
- Melvin Ingram – 3 x Pro Bowler, Outside Linebacker of the Miami Dolphins
- Michael Strachan – Bahamian Wide Receiver of the Indianapolis Colts
- Akeem Aguste – Super Bowl Winning Former Cornerback of the Seattle Seahawks and Cleveland Browns
- George Wingham – Wide Receiver Coach
We’re also very appreciative of our corporate partners for their unrelenting support:
- Showman eBistro for providing tasty bites for hard-working volunteers
- Caribbean Bottling Co. for providing refreshing drinks to cool off volunteers; and for making a donation during the event
- Jimmy’s Wines & Spirits brands, Corona Beer and Mount Gay Rum, for providing refreshing beverages and cocktails
- Bahamas Waste for providing waste receptacles, hand-washing stations, and cleanup supplies
- The Baha Mar Foundation for supporting mangrove conservation in The Bahamas
- REV and The Bahamas All-Pro Celebrity Weekend for engaging the NFL players
- Bahamas First for providing volunteers and supporting BNT’s work year-round
The BNT thanks everyone who came out to support this initiative, and we hope to continue to engage local and international communities in looking after Bahamian national parks!
Bonefish Pond National Park protects the last remaining tidal mangrove ecosystem on the shores of southern New Providence. This 1200-acre national park is home to a wide diversity of birds and is an important nursery for many marine species that are critical to the economy and culture of The Bahamas.
Photos: Zaria Dean and Elijah Sands, Bahamas National Trust