Nor'easters wash up a variety of debris onto beachesBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
March 12. 2018 11:40AM
RYE — Gabby Bradt enjoys foraging for seaweed along the New Hampshire coast for her workshops, but these days she’s finding a lot more than just seaweed.
Two powerful nor’easters over the past two weeks have stirred up the ocean and left area beaches littered with not only pieces of rope and mangled lobster gear but other debris that has included a red high heel shoe, mittens, knives and golf balls.
“When I came this week to collect something for another workshop I just started noticing all of the stuff that had washed up. It was plastics. I found boots. I found mittens. Tons of gloves,” said Bradt, a fishery specialist with New Hampshire Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension who also works with a marine debris program.
Bradt invited volunteers to join her Friday at Drowned Forest Beach in Rye to try to clean up some of the mess.
The debris isn’t just an aesthetic issue, Bradt said, but a safety hazard. Some of the debris is sharp, rusted and could be dangerous, especially for the young children who will fill the beaches this spring and summer.
Some knife handles, including one with a piece of blade still attached, were also found. They likely came from a fishermen, she said.
Cleanup also continues at other beaches impacted by the significant coastal flooding that occurred with the nor’easter that hit on March 2 and sent waves crashing over sea walls and Route 1A over several high tide cycles.
The state Division of Parks and Recreation issued a statement Friday reminding visitors to Seacoast state parks of the damage to many of the parks’ coastal facilities.
Due to the extensive damage, the Jenness State Beach parking lot in Rye and portions of the North Hampton State Beach parking lot are closed until further notice.
Visitors are being urged to use caution as the storm created a number of hazards including debris, pavement upheaval, cracks and uneven surfaces.
State park officials are asking visitors to give park staff and contractors with equipment room to work as they repair damage and clean up debris.
Bradt was surprised by the different types of debris that were found at Drowned Forest Beach.
“Every winter we expect a ton of lobster gear to come up and if there are nor’easters you get a lot more, but it was the added other stuff. Shoes, boots, gloves, shirts, there were more plastic bags,” she said.
Bradt, a Stratham resident, often works with fishermen on cleanup efforts, but said people shouldn’t be pointing the finger at them for all of the debris.
“This is blameless. This is Mother Nature. Unfortunately we’re dumping more stuff in there and that’s what struck me here. Yes there’s a lot of fishing gear, but there’s more stuff that cannot be attributed to fishermen,” she said.
Tom Gardner of Middleton and his 4-year-old son, Caleb, helped out with Friday’s cleanup. He said they found several golf balls and lobster traps.
He said he was also surprised by the amount of debris.
“I hadn’t thought of the storm and what effect it would have on the traps, obviously. It broke a lot of them apart,” he said.