The Seatuck Environmental Association partners with local community volunteers to revive Penataquit Creek.
The creek is part of the Great Cove watershed of the town of Islip and a tributary of the Great South Bay. Part of the race behind Bay Shore’s First Baptist Church on 2nd Avenue, just east of Bay Shore High School, where volunteers gathered this month for Seatuck’s 4th annual cleanup effort to help restore the ecological health of the region.
“We got our permits just before COVID and we’ve had 11 events since then, and with each event we do one more thing,” said Maureen Dunn, water quality scientist for Seatuck.
Other community groups and members involved in the cleanup initiative include South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, First Baptist Church of Bay Shore, Keep Islip Clean, Starbucks, Save the Great South Bay, Interact Group of Bay Shore High School, Legislator Steve Flotteron, and the Boy Scouts.
Seatuck started the Penataquit Creek Revival in 2017, and support for the project has grown over the years.
The overall mission is to improve the health of the stream and restore its role in the community.
“We removed the waste, including 42 tires and a piano. It was the first step. I mean it was kind of a dump,” Dunn said.
Dunn went on to explain the other steps in the cleanup process, such as removing invasive plants in the area, releasing native brook trout, and planting native plants that the group purchased with a grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation called Trees for tribes.
This includes native plants such as witch hazel, blueberry brushes, elderberry and more.
Dunn said planting all those native plants along the creek helps soak up all the nitrogen and keep it out of the water.
“If you have a healthy flow side, then you have a healthy flow,” she said. “We started by testing the waters, and it was very good. We found it to be a great creek, but all the trees are falling and there’s trash – so let’s clean it up.
Part of the cleanup includes sprucing up the area for public enjoyment.
For example, Vincent DiPierro of Boy Scout Troop 153 in Bay Shore will provide benches for a semi-circle overpass over the creek for his Eagle Scout project.
Seatuck President Alison Branco said there is a real opportunity to improve habitat around the creek.
She also believes that environmental projects like this are important because they connect the community.
“Volunteers love coming here because it’s part of their neighborhood,” Branco said. “It’s been about a year since I’ve been able to participate in one, and the transformation over that time is huge.”
Scroll down to see photos from the Pentaquit Creek cleanup.