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.
The cause began August 4th, 2012 as the Sayville Class of ’77 celebrated their 35th at The (Late Lamented) Grey Horse Tavern in Bayport. We came back and saw what had happened to our bay and were shocked and disgusted. Howard Ryan and Marshall Brown, both ‘Sayville 77’s alumni, found that all they they could talk about that night was how the bay we had all grown up on was dying.
Howard had for years fished from his Bertram 510 Sport at Oakdale Yacht and on a daily basis saw garbage floating up and down Connetquot River. Brown tides, murky waters, the clams and oysters gone, the fish mostly gone. Marshall and his then 11 year-old son had that day visited The Sayville Town Beach and tip-toed into the water only to be repulsed by the conditions. In short order, the site was launched thanks to a donation by Desktop Alert Inc.
A few weeks later in 2012, the Facebook Group Save The Great South Bay, (now over13,000 members) was established, We reached out to local scientists and locals alike, and with that began a conversation about how in fact we could restore our bay and what actions needed to be taken.
Ten weeks to the day after we founded Save The Great South Bay, Sandy hit. With that event, we really began to understand how truly vulnerable we were. It wasn’t just that this once abundant bay was now barren of clams. The problem was much larger than that. Decades of building on flood plains and bulldozing marshes compromised our coastal resiliency.
The eel grass beds and the marsh islands that in the past helped to mitigate wave action had been compromised, Our mainland is losing its trees and native habitat at an alarming rate, and when there’s a big storm, polluted runoff is an enormous problem. There’s less and less to soak it up.
From there, we found some really passionate, dedicated people, a lot of them really. Please note our Board of Directors and Advisors, our Creek Defenders. Only The South Shore can save The Great South Bay.
We now have these locally focused programs:
Save The Great South Bay Programs
The Creek Defender Program
There are some 50 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.
The Great South Bay Oyster Project
This program seeks to reintroduce bivalves strategically to the bay and its 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.
The Bay Friendly Yards
Through our Bay Friendly Yards program we advocate for bay friendly, pesticide free, chemical fertilizer free yards. Here we also practice ‘habitat restoration.’ We promote native plantings only, and plantings that are beneficial to the local environment–birds, butterflies, etc–and that highlights Long Island’s natural beauty.
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.
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, seven years on, we still need to keep bringing the message home, and see to it that the resources that are being applied to the problem are being spent wisely.
The scope of the problem, for all of Long Island’s bays, creeks and estuaries 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 is in the midst of piloting its cesspool replacement program. Given the current price point, the hope is that further innovation and volume will lower the per unit cost for these ‘onsite denitrification systems’ at the same time that some funding mechanism is established for an initiative that will cost well north of a billion. The on site systems are being qualified and 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 in total..
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 Superfund cleanup sites, and most notably, The Bethpage Plume all add to the challenge.
We each need to contribute and it will take all of us to address this ecological disaster.
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, are 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.