In conjunction with Martin Luther King Day of Service, Seatuck Environmental Association organized a weed-pulling event at Penataquit Creek in Bay Shore. Several local groups and organizations followed Seatuck’s lead, gathering 26 total volunteers for the cleanup on a cold morning.
Maureen Dunn, water quality specialist for Seatuck, explained that invasive plant species like oriental bittersweet vines that wrap around trees and Japanese knotweed, both of which are harmful to the natural plant ecosystem here and can jeopardize the health of the creek, too.
“Invasive plants directly compete with native species — degrading the habitat and disrupting established food webs,” Dunn said. “They decrease plant diversity and halt natural succession. From a human perspective, invasive plants limit recreation opportunities and generally cause a loss of ecosystem function.”
The cleanup is part of a larger project to additionally restore and protect the creek. The funding for the overall project here at Penataquit Creek was obtained through the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Trees for Tribs program in 2019. This program focuses on reforesting tributaries in New York.
“The project aims to restore native vegetation to a segment of the Penataquit Creek in an effort to improve water quality, decrease erosion of the stream bank and provide a natural green space for the community to enjoy,” Dunn said. “[Additionally,] this project will provide enhanced wildlife habitat, improved stream water quality, and enhance resilience to storm events.”
Dunn explained that the cleanup is mandated as part of a long-term management plan to tackle the issue of invasives at the creek. In fact, two additional cleanups are scheduled for April and May. The re-planting phase is planned for the fall.
Dunn said the association is discussing larger environmental plans for the creek.
“In the future, Seatuck is seeking funding to develop an overall plan for the revival of the entire Penataquit Creek watershed, tying together the Baptist Church and Southside Hospital projects with a host of other efforts to reduce stormwater runoff, improve stream connectivity and restore ecological conditions,” she said.