On April 21st, in Babylon for Creek Defender Day, Save The Great South Bay will be embarking on an experiment, and we will need your help.   So please take part!   Here are the details.   In short, we are going to plant a ‘swamp forest’ of about 1200 square feet alongside Carll’s River, where invasive plants like phragmites have been taking over.

Phragmites Invasion

Our thesis is this:   If we reintroduce native plants properly positioned and arranged, we can reclaim, year by year, acre by acre, our rivers and creeks.  They will crowd out invasives by drawing up nutrients and shading them out.   They will themselves filter the ground water, and their roots will act like sponges in a storm.   That in turn will all translate into cleaner, healthier creeks and cleaner water entering the bay.  If you want to volunteer for this project, or other future ‘swamp forest’ plantings along your creek in your South Shore Community, click here to fill out our volunteering form.

Here is what Matt Gettinger’s Long Island Natives will be donating to the cause:

3 Sweetgum (Liquidambar) 8-10’

1 Black Tupelo {Nyssa sylvatica) 8-10’

6 Black Cherry  (Prunus serotina)   6-7’

6 Sassafras     (Sassafras albidum)   4-5’

18 Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) pint

12 Long Hair Sedge  (Carex comosa) 1 gallon

36 Tufted Hair Grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) pint

36 Little Blue Stem  (Schizachryium scoparium) pint

6 Summersweet  (Clethra alnifolia) 2 gallon

12 Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) 2 gallon

6 Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) 2 gallon

12 Aronia (Arbutifolia) 2 gallon

6 Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)  2 gallon

6 Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) 2 gallon

In addition, Save The Great South Bay will be purchasing:

3 Red Maple  (Acer rubrum) 10-15′

Please click on the links to Wikipedia for each of these native plants.   They are just so beautiful, and, taken together and arranged by professionals, with the help of our volunteers, this will be a super sized boucquet for Carll’s River, the beginning of its return to health.

The bay’s plight is but a symptom of the fact that the mainland is sick, and getting sicker. Recently, a ‘heat map’ of dissolved oxygen levels in the bay was presented to a small gathering.  The places with the lowest levels were all near the mouths of our creeks, generally.   What if we could work in the uplands, restoring habitat, planting strategically within The Great South Bay’s whole watershed?

That’s what we aim to measure:  What will our ‘swamp forests’ do, year by year, in terms of habitat restoration and an improvement in water quality?   What additional benefits might we see if the plants listed above were planted in people’s yards.   How much groundwater might be filtered, especially around our antiquated cesspools, which at the end of the day are the main source of the bay’s woes, given the amount of nitrogen from urine they leach out, with that triggering our algal blooms.

What if we gave up our perfect, and perfectly sterile and lifeless lawns for a return to the beauty that was Long Island, even before the Dutch, with native plantings restoring our ecosystems?

The swamp forest that we and the villagers of Babylon will be building is replacing a compacted patch of earth, a place where water collects, where invasives grow.   It’s a broken ecosystem.   We can fix it.  Nature can, with our help.

Do you want to have your community build a swamp forest in your community, along your creek, to help the bay? Let us know.  We will need a lot of them, yard by yard, park by park, sump by sump to filter the water.