About Us

Save The Great South Bay Inc. is a 501(c)3 Non-Profit dedicated to the revitalization of The Great South Bay.  We are from The South Shore, past and present, baymen, fishermen, boaters, paddleboarders, surfers, sailors, local environmentalists, civic associations, schools, marine scientists, all working together.

STGSB Founders Howard Ryan and Marshall Brown
STGSB Founders Howard Ryan and Marshall Brown

We  were formed August 4th, 2012 as the Sayville Class of ’77 celebrated their 35th at The Grey Horse Tavern in Bayport. We came back and saw what had happened to our bay and were shocked and disgusted. Marshall Brown and Howard Ryan, both ‘Sayville 77’s, found that all they they could talk about that night was how the bay we had grown up on was dying. Howard came in by boat, and saw garbage floating all over it, murky, the clams gone, the fish mostly gone. Marshall had made the mistake of going with his then 11 year-old son to The Sayville Town Beach and getting in the water.

A few weeks later, despite the hangovers, the Facebook Group: Save The Great South Bay, now almost 15,000, was established, and Howard purchased the URL and launched savethegreatsouthbay.org’s website with start up funding. From there, we reached out to local scientists and locals alike, and with that began a conversation about how in fact we could bring our bay back, what actions need to be taken.

Twelve weeks later, to the day, Sandy hit.   With that, we really began to understand how truly vulnerable both we and our local environment were. It wasn’t just that the bay was now practically barren of clams when it once supplied half the nation, it was also the loss of the eel grass, the shellfish beds, the marshes, of habitat, of coastal resiliency. To save the bay, and at the same time protect ourselves against future storms, we need a healthy bay, a healthy mainland, and healthy marshes.

That is why we have our five programs:

  1. The Creek Defender Program:
    There are 36 creeks flowing into The Great South Bay. Without healthy creeks, we cannot have a healthy bay. The program supports local stewardship by bringing together local South Shore residents, schools, civic and environmental groups to clean and protect our creeks in every community from Lindenhurst to Mastic.  Contact us at [email protected] to get involved with the creek in your community.
  2. The Habitat Restoration Program:
    This program seeks to reintroduce bivalves strategically to the bay and it’s estuary.  The aim is to have these filter feeders help clean the water, whether oysters or ribbed mussels.  We advocate for living shorelines along the bay, for marsh restoration. We also are working with the marina industry to help promote ‘green’ policies that lead to a healthier bay and a more vibrant marina industry.
  3. The Take the “Bay Friendly Yard” Pledge For Bay Friendly Yard Care:
    This program, which Save The Great South Bay, along with Grassroots Environmental Education helped launch and which now has thirty other local environmental groups participating, advocates for bay friendly, pesticide free, chemical fertilizer free yards. Here we also practice ‘habitat restoration.’ We advocate native plantings only, and plantings that are beneficial to the local environment–birds, butterflies, etc–and that highlights Long Island’s natural beauty.
  4. Advocacy: We advocate a systematic, scientifically driven approach to the bay’s management. Science, not politics. A healthy bay means a healthy economy for The South Shore and it means preserving a public good for future generations. We work today so that future generations will fish, clam, swim and boat on these waters as we had.
  5. It Takes a Village: We are a Tribe. This is a tribal effort. Tribal efforts, influence on environmental policy grow awareness!

In 2012, we began with the belief that if Long Islanders knew the nature and extent of our water pollution issues, we would be well on our way to solving them.   Now, five years on, we see that in fact people are acting–in the form of funding, most importantly. In the 2018 New York State budget, there’s $2 billion for waste water treatment infrastructure for Long Island.  Cuomo gets it, in fact most of our political leaders now understand: Do nothing, and all of Long Island is at stake.

The scope of the problem, for all of Long Island’s bays, is immense.  We have to contend with 500,000 septic tanks seeping nitrogen into our groundwater, triggering massive algal blooms of various sorts–mahogany tides, red tides, rust tides, brown tides, blue-green algae, each destructive of animal and plant life in different ways. In addition, this nitrogen is seeping into our drinking water, the aquifer we live right above, left by the glaciers.

Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone has labelled nitrogen ‘public enemy #1’ as the county seeks to roll out ‘onsite denitrification systems’ to replace the inefficient and antiquated cesspools and septic tanks.   There is also sewering planned for along four main rivers leading into The Great South Bay–Carll’s Connetquot, Patchogue, and The Forge paid for with Sandy funds. By restoring habitat through cleaner water, we are building coastal resilience, preparing for future storms.

The onsite systems are being qualified and even improved, thanks to Stony Brook’s Center For Clean Water Technology, funded by New York State.  New York State also funded The Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan (LINAP) a comprehensive study as to how we address a problem it will take many billions to solve.

There are so many contributors to our water pollution crisis:   There’s the additional flux of nitrogen coming into our groundwater from fertilizers, whether from lawns or farms, or golf courses, or road runoff.  On top of all that, pesticides, improperly disposed of pharmaceuticals, gas station oil spills, and toxic plumes from the 99 Superfund cleanup sites, and most notably, The Bethpage Plume all add to the challenge.

Since we each contribute, it will take all of us to solve this.

It will take a lot of concerted effort and dedication, but Save The Great South Bay, in conjunction with dozens of other Long Island non-profits and with those of The South Shore, past and present, is helping to lead the charge not only to save The Great South Bay, but to help assure the future of Long Island itself, its sustainability. Together, we can remake Long Island for the 21st Century and bring back our bay.

Questions? Comments? Volunteer? Please follow this link to contact us.