The second annual 5K Run For The Bay, staged by Blue Island Oyster‘s Operation Blue Earth for the benefit of that initiative and Save The Great South Bay, took place this last Saturday in Sayville. The run is for the benefit of both Operation Blue Earth and Save The Great South Bay, but most importantly for the bay itself. Operation Blue Earth, through its local public awareness campaign, helps people make the connection between what they put on their lawns and the health of The Great South Bay. As you drive around Sayville, you will see yard signs like this:

Then there’s their van:

Operation Blue Earth’s mission is to help local people make the connection between their lawn care practices and the health of the bay. For oyster growers, high nitrogen fertilizers is something we must avoid, since high nitrogen levels in the bay help feed algal blooms, which is detrimental to growing shellfish.

Save The Great South Bay, on its part, is helping to lead a 30+ org consortium as part of the I Love Long Island Campaign, which advocates for low nitrogen, pesticide free lawns, and supports organic lawn care.

We are in turn all supporting a bill, S-8170 now before The New York State legislature that would like nitrogen concentrations in fertilizer bags to 12%, with no less than half non-soluble nitrogen. We don’t want the nitrogen to run off with the next rain, but stay in the lawn’s root system.  Please click on the link so you can reach out to your  state senator to say you support this necessary bill.

The turnout was pretty stunning, especially on a chilly foggy April morning.   500+!

Proceeds from this run will go right back into the community and applied towards improving the quality of the bay locally.   This will involve not only weaning people away from chemical lawn products, but also by working to rebuild native habitat along our creeks, shores, and even in our own yards.

If people “go native” in their yards, planting only what should be there, the bay will benefit.   With natives, you can “go naked.”   No need for more water, or more fertilizer, or pesticides to support plants that don’t belong here (like Kentucky Bluegrass).  Further, you can plant in your yards trees, shrubs, and grasses that will actively filter the water right there before it leaches into the bay.

Through strategic plantings we can improve water quality on the mainland before it hits the bay, before, in Sayville’s case before it enters into Browns River.

Here is a diagram that lays out how plantings improve our water:

Now, with a Creek Defender For Sayville named (congratulations, James Bertsch!), we are scouting for a location for a “Swamp Forest” such as we planted in Babylon last week by Carll’s River:

When They Are 30, The Forest Will Be Full Grown

Between the 500+ runners who participated, and the 15+ sponsors, including most especially Cornucopia, who is supporting us through 1% for the Planet, Save The Great South Bay and Project Blue Earth have now some resources that can be put to use locally to promote ‘bay friendly yards,’ beautifying our community, restoring habitat, and improving our local waters.  To all who participated, you are all champions for the bay!

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