Sara Tabin

In anticipation of the Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride bicycle ride in April, a dozen New Haven residents spent Saturday morning collecting bags of coffee cups, tire parts and food wrappers at Long Wharf Nature Preserve.

The local environmental New Haven Land Trust hosted a spring cleaning event to prepare for the ride, which will serve as a fundraiser for community organizations in New Haven. Max Farbman ’18, outreach and education coordinator for New Haven Land Trust, said the group wanted to ensure the area looks “extra nice,” since the bike ride will pass through the preserve.

“[Long Wharf Preserve] is a nice place,” said Roby Mandac, a junior at Quinnipiac University. “There shouldn’t be trash here — people should be able to enjoy it.”

Farbman said the Land Trust hosts volunteer cleanups once or twice each season for all its preserves — such as Pond Lily and Morris Creek — but added that Long Wharf is particularly challenging to keep clean since it borders the interstate highway I-95. Trash comes into the preserve from the highway, he said.

He added that Long Wharf is a coastal wetland which provides habitats to plant and animal species such as egrets, monarch butterflies and cottontail rabbits. The preserve also serves a community need as it is often used in educational programming for children, according to Farbman.

“[Long Wharf] helps kids connect to the waterfront, which is difficult considering so much of [the waterfront] is industrialized,” he said.

The majority of Saturday’s volunteers were students from Quinnipiac University participating in the university’s annual “Big Event,” a campuswide day of service.

Mandac explained that Quinnipiac students register for the Big Event in student groups and are then assigned to different community organizations. Mandac participated in the preserve cleanup through his fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta.

Phi Gamma Delta members cleaning the preserve expressed enthusiasm about their assignment.

Ildi Koni, a freshman who is also a Phi Gamma Delta member, said he had been to the preserve once before on a walk. Koni said the preserve’s scenery was beautiful and described the cleanup as a fun activity.

Phi Gamma Delta freshman James Freeman said he especially enjoyed the cleanup since Saturday’s weather was pleasant and sunny. He added that he hoped the Land Trust would partner with Quinnipiac again next year.

There are more volunteer days to come, Farbman said, including an event where volunteers will tag and release harsh crabs. He also said the Land Trust hopes Elm City residents will participate in the Rock to Rock ride and said they can join the Land Trust’s bike team if interested.

Steve Wilcox, a New haven resident and member of the Land Trust’s preserve committee, said he participated in Saturday’s cleanup because the preserve is located in his neighborhood.

“I think all natural areas are important for the community, especially in a city where it’s all mostly paved,” he said. “[Long Wharf] is a place you can get back to nature without driving too far.”

The New Haven Land Trust was founded in 1982.