'Save the Great South Bay' Takes Over The South Shore

How a non-profit organization is healing the Great South Bay by bringing the community together as a force.

by Gia Tims

The South Shore of Long Island is home to the Great South Bay, and the island’s natural habitats and species rely on the bay to be a clean and healthy environment. Save the Great South Bay is a non-profit organization that is devoted to cleaning up the bay and protecting the natural environment that makes up the South Shore.

Founded in 2012, Save the Great South Bay (SGSB) holds events year-round to help get the community involved in keeping the bay healthy. From local cleanups, to holding concerts to raise money,  SGSB strives to be integrated into the many communities that make up the South Shore.

“We have over 14,000 people in our Facebook group,” said executive director Marshall Brown. “They are people from the South Shore.”

Brown said that SGSB uses their Facebook as well as other social media platforms to inform the community about events they are having.

One of the most recent events that the organization held was a large cleanup at Gilgo Island with Great South Bay Society. There were 14 boats on the water and about 80 people participating in the cleanup.

“It was quite an inspiring thing to see: people at the event giving money and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes,” Brown said about the people who attended the Gilgo Island cleanup. “It’s such a good feeling to work with your neighbors.”

Usually, the cleanups consist of people jumping on paddle boards and getting out onto the water to pick up trash and other debris. “This last Earth Day … we pulled 39 car tires out of Carll’s River in Babylon,” Brown said.

A big part of the cleanups includes planting what Brown calls “swamp forests,” which consist of native habitats around the creeks that lead to the bay in an effort to help the bay heal and become healthy. “If we want to have a clean bay, we need to have creeks that are healthy and the plant mass filters and cleans groundwater,”Brown said. “It makes a difference in water quality.”

Brown said that a great way to help save the Great South Bay, aside from attending cleanups, is to plant bay-friendly gardens in your own backyard, consisting of native plants which will help keep the groundwater filtered.

“If we restore the habitat up and down all of these creeks, we can make a difference in the bay,” Brown said. “We can get the community out to work together to make a difference.”