On the banks of the beautiful Carll’s River in Babylon Village, just where it crosses under Park Avenue, you will find the Carll’s River Native Forest, a Save The Great South Bay habitat restoration project established in April 2019 as a collaborative effort with the Village of Babylon. Now it may seem like it simply belongs there but that is exactly the intention.

Habitat restoration projects such as this one, return plants to an area that has become overrun by invasive or exotic species and replace them with native species. Natives require no fertilizer or pesticides, and once established, require little if any irrigation. They provide a stunning palette of colors as they bloom and require little maintenance. Their root systems, having adapted to local soils over thousands of years, naturally help remove contaminants, mitigate stormwater runoff before it enters the bay, and reduce erosion.

As importantly, native plants also provide habitat for our local fauna, the birds and the bees if you will, that are a crucial part of the local ecosystems. In fact, this project includes several species of trees and plants that are known to attract Monarch butterflies.

This planting which covers more than 1,000 sq.ft. was carefully curated to recreate a Red Maple Swamp Forest, an ecological community recognized by New York State Natural Heritage Program. As the plants mature, bursts of deep orange of Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) will appear along with pops of purple Marsh Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), blossoms of rosy pink Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), bright yellow Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) complemented by the bluish green Little Blue Stem (Andropogon scoparium). Woody species that were established in prior plantings include Silky Dogwood, Sweetgum, Red Maple, Pussy willow, Groundselbush, and Buttonbush.

As with all of Save The Great South Bay’s projects, this team effort was volunteer driven in collaboration with our local municipal partner – the Village of Babylon. Research and design was conducted by Frank Piccininni, head of Save The Great South Bay’s Habitat Restoration program and co-founder of SMPIL Consulting and Spadefoot Design and Construction. Skip Gardner, Village Highway Superintendent performed the initial area clearing and protected the bank to ensure debris did not fall into the river. The Village also outlined the area to the west with beautiful stacking bricks.

It was planted with love and passion by the dynamic Dempsey’s – Tom, Ilena, Connor and Anna – a local Babylon Village family, along with help from several volunteers including Bill Raftery who painstakingly removed invasives from the area, Peter Snyder, a SUNY Maritime student and current intern with Save The Great South Bay, and the Silvestri family who mulched. The entire effort was led by Babylon Creek Defender Todd Shaw who conducts annual community-based clean ups along the Carll’s River.

This project was made possible through the generosity of Long Island Natives, Middleton Environmental, York Analytical Laboratories, SMPIL Consulting and the Village of Babylon.

If you would like to get involved in a future native planting, as a volunteer or a sponsor, please email us at [email protected].

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