By Kate Berube
Our local Creek Defenders launched into action this past weekend April 17-18, mobilizing over a 100 volunteers across Sayville, Bayport, and Blue Point throughout the two days event! The Creek Defender program is part of the larger Save The Great South Bay organization that leads south shore initiatives in environmental bay conservation, including Bay Friendly Yards and the Great South Bay Oyster Project.
Each Creek Defender is tasked with being a caretaker of the inland waterways that feed into the bay in their town and organize volunteer efforts to maintain them. “The concept of the Creek Defender is quite simple actually; if we want a clean and healthy Bay it starts with clean and healthy rivers and creeks that feed into it.” explains Bayport Creek Defender Bob Draffin “By getting the community to buy into this concept, we encourage their participation in clean-ups, removal of invasive species, native plantings and educational programs.”
Draffin teamed up with Sayville Creek Defender Dr. James Bertsch, who were thrilled with the turn out, particularly local students who showed up in record numbers this year “It is encouraging to see our younger citizens like those in the BBP Junior Civic getting involved as they are our future stewards of the Great South Bay!” Draffin said.
Local high school and middle school research students from BPP and Sayville collected and cataloged water samples as a way to chart the impact of these programs and evaluate the health of the bay. Among them was 8th grader Sean Evans from Sayville Middle School, who braved the frigid waters off Bogel Rd. to test for nitrates levels.
“We got members of the community out and helped raise awareness on how the health of our upland creeks impact the health of the Great South Bay all while doing something that has a tangible impact,” says Blue Point Creek Defender Jason Borowski. “We removed several hundred pounds of trash including things like multiple tires, paint cans and even a shopping cart.”
Sunday’s effort alone saw some 60 community members come out in support, many from the local Civic Association. Speaking to the enormous scale of the operation in Blue Point, Borowski remarked, “An event like this is only possible because of the invaluable support we get from Save the Great South Bay, the Town of Brookhaven and those from our local community that took time out of a beautiful Sunday to volunteer.”