Community Cleanup Helps Wildlife and Brings Attention to a Camden Jewel

As part of their participation in New Jersey Audubon's Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC), Covanta Energy (Covanta), partnered with the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (CCMUA) to perform a community cleanup at the mainland section of the Petty’s Island Preserve. This area, currently owned by the CCMUA, will ultimately be turned over to the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust, which was granted a conservation easement for the Petty’s Island Property, to be Bald Eagle along Delaware River (John Parke)part of Petty’s Island Preserve. A true habitat jewel in a highly developed urban area, the preserve property (both mainland and the island) provides an oasis for breeding, foraging and resting habitat for an amazing array of wildlife. In addition to a pair of Bald Eagles that nest there, the mix of wooded wetlands and tidal mudflats provides critical habitat for songbirds, waterfowl and raptors that migrate along the river corridor during the spring and fall. The area is also home to Boy scouts and CCMUA workers helping with cleanup (Victor Camporine)turtles, snakes, frogs, deer, beaver, fox and many other species of wildlife.

With the help of Pennsauken Boy Scout Troup 118, NJ Audubon staff, neighborhood residents, CCMUA staff and Covanta staff, garbage and large debris were collected along the Farragut Avenue section of the CCMUA property between 36th and 32nd streets. Covanta provided two 30-yard roll-off containers and by the end of the cleanup these containers were filled to the rim with garbage and debris. The material was then taken to the Covanta Camden Energy Recovery Center, a waste to energy facility that has been serving Camden County since 1991. The facility runs three boilers and process approximately 1,050 tons of solid waste each day, producing a net output of 21 megawatts. Covanta acquired the Camden facility in August 2013 from Foster Wheeler, which was the designer, builder, owner and operator of the facility.

“As a vocal advocate for environmental conservation and sustainability, and an active member of the Camden community, Covanta is proud to partner with such esteemed, like-minded organizations as New Jersey Audubon, CCMUA and the Boy Scouts of America,” said Covanta Environmental Compliance Specialist Victor Camporine. “We are proud of our community and pleased that our combined commitment is making a difference.”

Scouts and NJ Audubon helping with Cleaup at Camden Site (John Parke)In addition to the mainland cleanup, the Partners for Petty’s Island, consisting of staff from NJ Audubon, Delaware River Keeper, Cooper River Watershed Association, US Fish and Wildlife Service, CITGO, CCMUA and Natural Lands Trust, coordinated the on-island Petty’s Island cleanup the same day. More than 30 participants turned out to help, collecting over 30 yards of garbage, debris and tires!

“Although at times it may seem that cleaning these areas only removes a tiny fraction of what is there, community cleanups like these are very important,” said John Parke, Project Stewardship Director for NJ Audubon. “As garbage degrades it releases chemicals into the environment. Those chemicals can take many years to break down and can impact our natural resources. Secondly, garbage in general is very harmful to wildlife. From becoming trapped or entangled in discarded materials to consuming objects perceived as food, garbage possesses both direct and indirect threat to wildlife and their environment. Animals that consume garbage are often malnourished simply because they're not eating the diet nature intends for them to eat,” added Parke. “Having clean open space builds community pride and we certainly hope that these cleanups here at the preserve inspired others in Camden and Pennsauken including the municipal government, schoolchildren, youth groups, neighborhood associations, local environmental groups, and individuals to come out, get involved and make this area a better place for people and wildlife.”