Two Views: International Coastal Cleanup Day on the Farm River

The Farm River coastal cleanup crew.

Curt Johnson, Executive Director of the Save the Sound program, has participated in a dozen coastal cleanups during his tenure. He’s been boating for 50 years, and has lived in the coastal town of Branford, Connecticut, for much of his life. Curt organized a water-based cleanup along Branford’s Farm River in honor of International Coastal Cleanup Day on September 17. The event brought out more than 20 participants and 15 kayaks.

Diane Hoffman, a resident of Hamden, joined Curt’s cleanup crew this year. This was Diane’s first time ever in a kayak, and her first time ever participating in an International Coastal Cleanup event!

Curt and Diane each wrote about their experiences to give us two unique perspectives from one much-needed cleanup.


Save the Sound Executive Director Curt Johnson in the marsh.

From Curt Johnson, Executive Director, Save the Sound – 5 decade boater, participant in 12+ cleanups:

Stretching out with a paddle, mid-ankle in mud, I’m slowly gathering soccer balls, the lid of a whipped cream can, and an old auto oil funnel, all floating in a tiny tidal marsh pond. After miss-stepping and sinking knee deep, I’m able to corral my trash bounty.

The morning is filled with laughs, huge chunks of Styrofoam, and waterlogged lumber found lurking below the surface of the river — along with bags filled with every kind of plastic debris imaginable.

This cleanup grounds me in the work of saving the Sound. I watch my neighbors floating in kayaks, hauling trash, and loving the river. It reminds me that every marsh on every river is begging to be cleaned every year.

It makes me proud to stand tall, or sink down in the mud, with over 1,700 of my fellow Long Island Sound lovers who are cleaning up over 60 miles of our coast this year.


From Diane Hoffman, Hamden resident — first time in a kayak, first time at a cleanup:

WOW! I just spent the most wonderful morning volunteering for Save the Sound by picking up trash along the Farm River. I was in my kayak for the first time ever and it was a fabulous day. Great exercise for my arms involving reaching and stretching and I was thinking and maneuvering and plotting and planning on how to reach the different pieces of trash that I was trying to pull out and then that great feeling of having actually made a difference by helping to clean up the waterway!

The fish were jumping, the crabs were swimming and the birds were flying! It was glorious!

I did wonder why on Earth I was pulling out Christmas ornaments and deodorant roll-on containers. It made no sense to me how those things could be in the water. It just goes to show where trash can end up if we are not careful to dispose it properly! Thank you, Save the Sound, for all the good work that you do! Water is life!

Clarice Begemann, Secretary of Friends of the Farm River Estuary, picking up trash.
Curt Johnson loading up a truck with trash found in the Farm River.

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