Coast Guard 5th District pitches in for Earth Day

Throughout the Coast Guard 5th District, Coast Guard members and volunteers have come together to clean up their communities for Earth Day.

This year, Earth Day participants from all over the Mid-Atlantic are doing their part.

Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads in Portsmouth, Va., is making an effort to reduce its environmental footprint by implementing a series of projects aimed at increasing sustainability and the use of renewable energy at Base Support Unit Portsmouth.

One of the projects was a compost pile built in an effort to reduce food waste and turn it into nutrients for a garden.

Keith Beko, quality assurance specialist at the BSU, is developing ways to cut down on the amount of energy they use. Several projects at Sector Hampton Roads decrease the amount spent on electricity include using light-emitting diodes lighting, solar thermal and in the future adding a generator and sensory lights for offices.

I think we are going to get natural gas on the base, according to Beko. Right now we use fuel oil which is a huge amount of money. Natural gas is half the cost of fuel. We are going to save half on the energy just from switching to that. We are also looking at getting geothermal in as many of the buildings as possible.

Since Thursday is Earth Day, Beko talked about what the Coast Guard in Portsmouth is doing for their part.

“We are going to plant some trees, go around and clean the base completely from one end to the other,” said Beko. “We go out into the back 90, right next to the creek, we go back and clean there because debris ends up off the creek right on our shores.”

Sector Hampton Roads is not the only unit with these kinds of ideas and goals.

Members of Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J., are also cleaning up their community.
Coast Guard members along with community volunteers and civilian employees at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May have volunteered their time by picking up trash throughout the base and planted trees along the sand dunes and shoreline.
“We try to make the training center the best place to live and work in the Coast Guard,” said Capt. William Kelly, commanding officer of the training center. “To come together on a day like today, to make our community the best it could be; is a noble cause and the right thing to do. An event like today not only gives back to the community but brings us all together.”
Just south of Cape May, other Coast Guard units are doing their part as well.
Crewmembers of Coast Guard Cutter Sledge and Coast Guard Cutter James Rankin, both homeported in Baltimore, have volunteered their time to clean up spare tires, bottles, cans and trash, which has accumulated in Curtis Bay, Md.
“You have to set an example if you want people to follow you,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Tonya Mills, a crewmember aboard the Rankin. “So hopefully the Coast Guard sets an example showing that we actually care, that we’re going to go out and to do our part. Hopefully other organizations will volunteer too, maybe doing a once month thing like adopting a highway or adopt the bay.”
In total, the crews of both cutters collected 20 cubic yards of trash and 2000 pounds worth of tires from Curtis Bay.
“We’re a small organization trying to do our part; we’re out working buoys, conducting boardings and doing search and rescue, but that isn’t just our job – this is part of it too,” said Mills.
All of these efforts put in by Coast Guard units raise awareness and appreciation for the environment. Since April 22, 1970, this has been the foundation for Earth Day. Coast Guard members, civilians and family members are doing their part in the region to keep their communities clean and safe.

CAPE MAY, N.J. - Jeff Schafer, a member of Facilities Engineering at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, helps Jersey Rogers plant a tree at the training center April 21, 2011. Schafer along with other volunteers planted native trees for Earth Day. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Crystalynn A. Kneen.