Saturday, April 13th, began ominously.  Driving rain overnight, followed by a blanket of fog.   Calls coming in:  Is it still on?

Gazing at our weather apps, looking at the forecasts, we were promised improbably that by mid afternoon the sun would burn through the gloom and we’d be looking at 72 degrees.

So we set up — A PA system, a tent, banners, apparel, an information table.   The South Shore Estuary Reserve in the house.  The night before, planting thirty trees in the new Carll’s River Native forest.   In the fog and gloom waiting to see who’d show up for Creek Defender Day, the third annual.

We built our two signs.    The first was to commemorate the swamp forest we planted last year in honor of Skip Gardner, long time Superintendent of Public Works for Babylon Village.

Here’s a shot from November, after an April planting.  16 different types of native plants and shrubs arranged in a ‘pit and mound’ design to mimic nature: 

This sign was for the new forest we were planting that day:

We did all the ‘spade work’ preparing the ground for the planting, right there on Park Street in Babylon where Carll’s River crosses under, to the east of the elementary school.

Still we wondered on this drizzily morning: How many would show up?

Well show up they did! The weather cut the numbers down, certainly, but we still had an army!

Gerry Ryan, Founder and CEO of Emerald Document Imaging, and a staunch supporter of Save The Great South Bay, showed with 10 of his employees! They were amazing!

Also there to pitch in was Thomas Dempsey, Massapequa’s Creek Defender, and his wife Ilena, both Babylonians.

Later, The Creek Defender For Lindenhurst, David Schrader would arrive, along with Bay Shore’s Creek Defender, Tom Kain. Lindenhurst’s clean up is Saturday the 20th, at 10 AM weather permitting Bay Shore’s is May 4th at 9 AM. In every community, we are finding, there is a lot of local passion to take action to help the local environment and the bay.

Mayor Ralph Scordino spoke to commemorate the Skip Gardiner Native Forest, which was our planting from last year, and was joined by State Assemblyman Mike LiPetri. From there the volunteers fanned out.

I spied a blue plastic crate in the middle of the river, put on my waders went in and removed it. It had been there so long tree roots had grown through it:

Further north, on the south side of Southard’s pond, I ran into Al, and we spent three hours together scooping out floating trash — styrofoam, bottle caps, plastic cigar stems, cans, pens, lipstick cases, and plastic bags. The Village and the Town need to figure out how to prevent trash from coming into the pond, whether from storm drains along the access roads, or from wind blowing the trash in.

The young families that participated really worked hard!

Since we were spread out all over the place, we all seemed to have our own adventures. Here are a couple of us contending with a large pile of refuse that had been dumped right along the river:

For decades to come, our native forest planting will improve water quality along Carlls River by filtering the ground water with its root systems and soil microbes. By putting back what is supposed to be there, we can help to restore the bay!

All in all, it was an inspiring day! Babylon’s Creek Defender Day was the first of a number on The South Shore this spring!

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