April 21st, Creek Defender Day in Babylon drew 100 volunteers to help clean up around Carll’s River and to plant a “swamp forest.”  Here’s the forest-to-be arriving:

The plants were all lined up by type:

Species                                      Common Name  Wetland Indicator Status  Growth Habit

Cephalanthus Occidentalis    buttonbush             Obligate                             Shrub/ tree
Viburnum dentatum                arrowood                 Faculative                          Shrub
Aronia arbutifloria                    red chokeberry       Faculative wetland          Shrub
Lindera benzoin                       spicebush                 Faculative wetland          Shrub
Ilex verticulata                          winterberry              Faculative wetland          Shrub
Clethra alniflora                        sweet pepperbush Faculative                         Shrub
Schizachyrium scoparium      little bluestem         Faculative upland          Herbaceous 
Deschampsia caespitosa        tufted hairgrass      Faculative wetland         Herbaceous 
Carex comosa                            longhair sedge       Obligate                            Herbaceous 
Asclepias incarnata                  swamp milkweed   Obligate                            Herbaceous 
Sassafras albidum                    sassafras                   Faculative upland          Tree
Prunus serotina                         black cherry             Faculative upland          Tree
Nyssa sylvatica                          black gum                Faculative                        Tree
Acer rubrum                               red maple                 Faculative                        Tree
Liquidambar styraciflua          sweetgum                 Faculative                        Tree

The arrangement of all these trees, shrubs, and plants together is our effort to mimic as much as possible a native swamp forest.  ‘Obligates’ require swamps to grow in.   “Facultative” can grow in a broader variety of environments, depending on type.  Much thanks to our Director, Frank Piccininni, for developing the solution we used here, and to Matt Gettinger of Long Island Natives for donating this beautiful ’boutique’ for Carlls River.

Here they all are, arranged by category by a local girl’s civics club. But that is only half of it. The 1200 square foot bed for plantings needed to be designed just so for each plant.

When They Are 30, The Forest Will Be Full Grown

It was a good crowd.   It was exciting to watch all the volunteers arrive.  They’d all come to take part and give back.

The Volunteers Begin To Gather

At this point, Mayor Ralph Scordino of The Village of Babylon gave an absolute barn burner of a speech before the 1oo who had gathered about the need for every community on Long Island to work to return their native habitat along our creeks. and to act as local stewards.   I know someone has a video of it somewhere.

If you have any pics from the event, email them to [email protected] and we will post them in a gallery we will create for a Babylon Creek Defender page.  Videos would need to be sent with something like Dropbox.

We broke into four groups to cover four different areas of The Carll’s River watershed:

Team Emerald Triumphant!   Several months back, Emerald Document Imaging reached out to us saying they had grown up here, they and their employees were boaters and fishermen, and they wanted to help.   Thanks to Jerry Ryan and his daughter Meg for rallying their troops!

Team Emerald, Minus Half It’s Crew at Day’s End

Team Farmingdale had its own story.   They helped with the tires, but their greatest contribution was to go into the streams back in the woods and clear them of accumulated trash.   There was just a lot of trash in the stream, mostly from an outfall pipe coming in from Sunrise Highway.  Afterwards, the flow was markedly better.  Mark and his team actively seek local groups to help.   We are so glad they found us!

Team Farmingdale

All through the clean up, Team Hofstra and their camera crew was circulating about, filming the clean up and the planting and interviewing the participants, and of course the mayor.    They are from The Center For Civic Engagement, and chose us this semester as a local non-profit to profile.   We all look forward to seeing their videos / senior project in the next several weeks.

Note I just had my own pictures here from this part of the cleanup.   I’d love to see the rest!

So many volunteers to thank, and officially acknowledge!   We are working up an official certificate for each of you.  Thank you.   This was not easy work.  But you all kept at it.

Pictured here is Babylon’s Creek Defender and Director of Save The Great South Bay, Todd Shaw. Huge effort on his part making this all possible in his hometown. If you want to establish a Creek Defender program in your community, and plant your own “swamp forests,” email us at [email protected]. We will help you connect with others in your community. Lindenhurst, Blue Point, Sayville, and Bayport have all expressed strong interest already. Now that we have a method to return native habitat to our creeks and improve their water quality, there’s a model we can replicate anywhere.

None of this would have been possible without the devoted stewardship of The Village of Babylon. They fully embraced it.

Thank You, Village of Babylon!

By 4 PM, we’d finished for the day.   But the new “swamp forest” was just getting started on its job of filtering the groundwater, shading out and taking nutrients away from the invasive growth in the woods behind, and reinstating ancient habitats.

Swamp Forest, Day One

Come visit it right by the trail that heads north to Southard’s Pond behind the tennis courts and see it grow week by week.

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