The shoreline along Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville is now a lot cleaner thanks to about 200 volunteers from 13 tenant commands that spent a few hours picking up garbage and debris during the annual cleanup July 26.

Volunteers walked the shoreline along NAS Jacksonville airfield as well as Mulberry Cove and additional volunteers took to the water in canoes, kayaks and powerboats to collect debris in the water and bring it to shore where it could be properly disposed of.

IT2 Ashley Otten of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, was one of the volunteers in a kayak. “I like to help clean up,” she said. “Whenever I go to the beach, I take garbage bags and pick up trash.”

The cleanup effort started at 8 a.m. when NAS Jacksonville Safety Specialist Gregg Gillette addressed the volunteers at Mulberry Cove with a safety presentation, reminding them that their safety was the top priority for the day.

“Before you pick up anything, identify it and ask is it worth it, because you cannot assess anything you haven’t identified,” he told the crowd.

Gillette also warned the volunteers about topics ranging from poison ivy to snakes and the importance of looking carefully before you attempt to pick up an item from an unseen area.

NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Michael Connor then spoke to the volunteers at Mulberry Cove and Executive Officer Capt. Brian Weiss spoke to the air operations volunteers at the airfield.

“This event demonstrates that NAS Jax is dedicated to taking care of our base, as well the surrounding area,” Connor said. 

The most unusual piece of debris collected was a mattress, still in its new plastic cover. The mattress most likely was blown off a truck crossing the Buckman Bridge. Various boat parts were also collected at Mulberry Cove, while the cleanup at the airfield collected mostly wood.

“I truly appreciate all the volunteers who took time out of their day to help keep the river and this installation clean,” said Angela Glass, NAS Jacksonville Environmental Department natural resource manager. “Not only does it make for a safer and more beautiful place to live and work but helps the animals that call the river their home”