Year in Review, Episode Two: By The Rivers Of Babylon, The Creek Defender Program Is Born

On Earth Day, April 22nd, Save The Great South Bay launched The Creek Defender Program in Babylon on Carll’s River.   Working with The Village:

The Village of Babylon

Babylon High School and the Elementary School, the PTA and the parents,

Staging the Clean Up

 

as well as with South Shore Paddle Boards and their tribe,

80 volunteers worked in eight groups of ten to remove trash from in and around Carl’s River, from North Babylon to where the river enters the bay.

The amount of trash we were able to remove in just our four hours was just astounding:

This is trash that now will not pollute the bay.

The problem with Carll’s River can be multiplied by 42 — the number of rivers and creeks that flow into The Great South Bay.  We can’t heal the bay unless we heal those waters that feed the bay, and right now, our creeks are suffering from a number of ills:

  1. Road Runoff.    There are an estimated 2000 outfall pipes in Suffolk County, in various states of disrepair.   How many are dumping into our creeks?   Fertilizers, pesticides, road runoff?   The first thing we need to do as Creek Defenders, as local stewards of the waters that flow through our communities, from Lindenhurst to Bellport, is to survey and document.   Where are these pipes emptying in?    Can we get water samples?    The point here is, with our 12,000 members, with such strong representation in every community, we can put our local community environmental issues front and center.
  2. Lawn Runoff.   How are people who live within a creek’s watershed managing their lawns?   Given the enormous nitrogen pollution problems all our bays face from the 500,000 cesspools and septic tanks leaching into Long Island’s sandy soil, the last thing we really need is yet more nitrogen coming in from chemical lawn fertilizers.   If we are spending billions to get the nitrogen out, we shouldn’t be at the same time adding to the problem.   The Creek Defender Program advocates “Bay Friendly Yard Care.”    No chemical fertilizers.   Mulch your clippings to feed your lawn.  Native plantings, no pesticides.
  3. Aquifer Depletion.   We are literally running our ponds and creeks dry.   We need to stop watering our lawns as though they were rain forests.   We live on a sole source aquifer, and we are draining it.  That’s our children’s drinking water we are wasting in search of some outmoded idea of a perfect lawn.   We invented the suburban lawn.   We need to reinvent it, but this time by working with nature, not dumping millions of pounds of pesticides every year, not by bringing in plant species that have no business being here, not by draining away too much of what the glaciers left us.  Let Long Island be Long Island.   It is naturally beautiful.    We messed with it.  We can fix it.

In order to support our local Creek Defenders, Save The Great South Bay has created interactive maps of every creek on The South Shore.   Here is Carll’s River:

Carlls River Watershed

LOVELAND is dedicated to putting America online parcel by parcel. We work with governments, developers, neighborhood groups, and passionate individuals to gather and present information about property in clear, actionable ways. In Detroit our community missions include arming people with information to battle a plague of tax foreclosures and running an ongoing survey of property conditions to help fight blight.

Using this interactive map, you can zoom right down to a particular property lot, and attach photos, data, as a registered user.   There is even a smart phone app that goes with it, so that as people survey a creek for, say, sunken boats, car tires, shopping carts, collapsing bulkheads, failing pipes, illegal dumping, or signs of alewife, fresh water clams, ribbed mussels, etc, all this could be put onto the map for the creek in real time.

As an organization, it is our goal to have a Creek Defender for every community.   Todd Shaw, of Babylon Village, and one of our Directors, is The Creek Defender for Babylon.   Todd Brice of Amityville, marina owner, and Founder of The Great South Bay Society, is The Creek Defender there.   He has been running cleanups on the marsh islands now for eleven years.    As we launch programs in Lindenhurst, Oakdale, Sayville, Bayport, and Patchogue, and hopefully elsewhere, we are grateful for his leadership.  Using the local marinas along the bay as bases of operation, we plan to have local Creek Defenders enlist their community in clean ups, such as with this one with Todd Brice from Sept 23rd:

We also hauled out a 27″ TV. There are no words.

All our creeks and shores need help.   We are speaking and meeting with marina owners, boating and fishing associations, shellfishing companies and farmers, local restaurant owners, and all other major stakeholders on the bay, and seeking to create a bay-wide plan for local stewardship, with the marinas being key bases of operation.  Sometimes to do something right, you need a small armada.   I counted 14 boats for Todd’s clean up.

Armada

We will announce the new programs as they come on line.   Likewise, if you’d like to participate in a local Creek Defender effort, please contact us, and we will match you with other likeminded neighbors so you can grow your local effort.

Finally, going back to the article title, is an early bid to get on, say, the playlist for a May party at Tres Palms. So many people threw us parties this year! More on that soon!