BAYSIDE WITH JULY LEWIS:
Meet July, Save The Bay’s volunteer & internship manager!
Why and when did you get involved with Save The Bay?
I came on board as the Volunteer & Internship Manager in April 2013. I was excited to work with Save The Bay because of the terrific work we do protecting beautiful Narragansett Bay!
What is your favorite place/spot on Narragansett Bay?
My favorite spot is always changing – every summer it seems I have a new favorite beach! The latest is Fogland Beach in Tiverton. Colt State Park in Bristol is another favorite spot – I got married there!
What’s a favorite project you’ve worked on, or highlight from your Save The Bay experience thus far?
I love the grassland restoration we’ve been doing at Fields Point in Providence, on the Urban Coastal Greenway. Volunteers LOVE doing plantings! And then every day on my lunchtime walks I get to see the grasses filling in on areas that used to be bare soil.
Probably the most fun day of the year is the Rhode Island Seal Count, where trained volunteers all count at seal haul-out sites at the peak of the seal season. It’s always so exciting to see how many seals we can count on one day!
Finally, I’d say the most gratifying moment of all came out of an ongoing project on finding ways to reduce shoreline littering. It has been shown that people are less likely to litter on a clean beach, so we did monthly cleanups at a few beaches and measured the new litter found a couple days after each cleanup. Sad result: there was no reduction in litter! So the next year, we tried weekly cleanups at a single beach, Conimicut Point, and again measured the litter found a couple days later. At the end of the summer I graphed the results and the amount of littering had significantly declined over the summer! Happiest graphing moment of my life!
What are you excited to be working on right now?
What I’m excited to be working on right now is storm drain marking, which involves gluing markers that say, “Don’t Dump / Drains to Bay” (or coast, or river) to the curbs near storm drains. Most people have no idea that storm drains in the street almost always discharge directly to a water body, and not to any kind of treatment plant. So if you dump your litter, dog poop, or motor oil in those drains, it ends up in Narragansett Bay. Storm drain markers let people know this. I myself learned about it from a storm drain marker when I lived in San Francisco, almost thirty years ago!
This is the year for storm drain marking. It is the PERFECT project for the COVID-era because it can be done by individuals and families working independently. And we recently got some grants that allowed us to buy a lot of supplies, so we are able to do storm drain marking in a bigger way than we have done before, in project areas from Westerly to Seekonk.
What are some things most people don’t know about you?
I once published a story in Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine, I can touch my uvula with the tip of my tongue, and my birth name is not July!
How do you enjoy the Bay?
I love to swim!
What personal projects have been helping you keep busy during COVID-19?
I have done a ton of gardening, house projects like remodeling the front entryway, and I have been improving my Spanish via Zoom with a teacher in Oaxaca. I also took the opportunity to stop dyeing my hair and go silver!