How to Help Clean Up the Oil Spill
It's been over a month since the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig, and the millions of gallons of crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico have now covered an estimated 65 miles of Louisiana's shoreline. The coasts of Alabama, Mississippi and Florida are also in the spill's path. Wildlife and conservation groups warn that the ever-widening slick could pose complete disaster for the shoreline flora and fauna, and volunteers are urgently needed to help.
Even before the oil reaches a beach, you can get involved: environmental groups suggest removing driftwood, dry grass, seaweed and debris from areas expected to be effected before it becomes soaked in oil. If you see any wildlife covered in oil, don't capture it but call 866-557-1401. To report areas with oil ashore, call 866-448-5816.
Tonic has compiled a list of groups who need you to sign up now.
Volunteers wishing to help clean up the Louisiana coast can sign up here. The Louisiana Gulf Response is a coordinated effort between several nonprofit or governmental conservation and environmental organizations: The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, the National Wildlife Federation, the National Audubon Society and the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program. Volunteers are needed to assist with a variety of needs -- from oiled wildlife recovery to monitoring and photographing oil movement to providing a boat and driver for response activities. No specific training or experience is necessary, although you must be at least 18 years old to volunteer. Some tasks, such as food preparation, may require no training. Other tasks, such as washing oiled birds, may require specific certifications or skills. They encourage pre-veterinary students, veterinary technicians and those with HAZWOPER training to volunteer. Anyone with experience in dealing with wildlife handling, rehabilitation, or hazardous materials clean up is also strongly encouraged to register. Click here to sign up.
- Louisiana's St. Tammany Humane Society seeks trained and untrained volunteers to help clean and rehab oiled pelicans. Call Catherine Wilbert at 985-674-6898 or click here.
- The Sierra Club is mobilizing volunteers, and will connect you with opportunities to help. Please click here to sign up and for more information.
- Human hair from beauty salons, animal fur from groomers and pantyhose are needed by San Fransisco-based Matter of Trust to make homemade booms to sop up the oil. The fur is stuffed into pantyhose, which give shape to the booms. Volunteers are needed at warehouses in different sites across the country to gather for "Boom-B-Qs" to learn how to make the booms.
- The National Audubon Society is seeking volunteers wishing to clean up birds. Click here to register. The Audubon Society also seeks eBirders, people needed to survey local beaches and marshes for birds; your observations will help conservationists and researchers prioritize their efforts and asses the impacts of the spill. Click here for more information or to volunteer.
- Another option for those wishing to help oiled birds, Pascagoula River Audubon Center, part of Audubon Mississippi, is organizing training on cleaning wildlife affected by the oil spill. Volunteers may register their contact information here.
- Tristate Bird Rescue & Research is also coordinating on-the-ground volunteer efforts.
- Save Our Seabirds is a Sarasota, Florida-based bird rescue group that is looking for volunteers and support as its response team prepares to help oiled wildlife. Please click here to fill out their online form or call 941-388-3010.
- Folks in the Florida Keys are mobilizing volunteers to fend oil off its shores. You can register here. About 800 boat captains have already offered the use of their vessels, and scores of people have signed up for classes in how to clean up oil that could begin showing up on the coast later this week.
- The city of Biloxi, Mississippi is signing up volunteers for coastal clean up efforts.
- Global Green USA, a nonprofit focused on the creation of green buildings and cities, is signing up volunteers to help clean up the spill. Click here to sign up.
- The Gulf Restoration Network, a New Orleans-based nonprofit committed to keeping the Gulf of Mexico clean, seeks volunteers to help with clean-up efforts. Click here to sign up.
- The Alabama Coastal Foundation, which works to improve and protect the quality of Alabama's coastal resources, is collecting contact information from volunteers for cleanup efforts along the Alabama coast if the spill reaches its shores. Register here or call the Mobile-based nonprofit at 251-990-6002.
- The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program is looking for volunteers to help reduce the potential impact of the oil spill in Mobile Bay. To register, visit the group's website or call 251-431-6409.
- The Mobile Baykeeper is another Alabama group seeking volunteers in case the oil pushes into the state's shores. Call 251-433-4229 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, address, phone number, e-mail and available resources.
For more information on volunteer opportunities as they arise, get on Twitter and search #oilspill. On Facebook, keep checking the Louisiana Shore Cleanup group. The government also has a volunteer hotline at 1-866-448-5816.