Save the Great South Bay’s Creek Defender Program Kicks off Spring Creek Cleanup in the Town of Babylon

Photo by Joe Cook.
Creek Defender volunteers at Santapogue Creek in West Babylon over Easter weekend, 2024.
Creek Defender volunteers at Santapogue Creek in West Babylon over Easter weekend, 2024.

Easter and early spring on Long Island mean a few things to those who call it home. Possibly the most important is that the beloved summer season is almost here. Long nights, shorts and t-shirts, and of course, enjoying the Great South Bay. Whether you love the beach, boating, fishing, or all three, the fact is that the bay needs to remain clean to enjoy. That is why we have a non-profit group like Save the Great South Bay and their Creek Defender Program.

The South Shore of Long Island communities include 50 creeks that run through it, and feed into the Great South Bay. Those creeks are vital to the Great South Bay’s health. The Creek Defender program’s mission to save, protect, and preserve these vital tributaries by organizing cleanups to help keep the creeks clean and flowing smoothly to the bay, just like the one held at Santapogue Creek in West Babylon on Saturday, March 30.

The event was organized by Todd Shaw, President of Save the Great South Bay and Creek Defender Chairman, along with his colleague Christina Galante. Volunteers were hard at work removing trash along the Sunrise Highway behind Hassel Auto Body in West Babylon. Santapogue Creek flows down past Montauk Highway and into the Bay. It is considered an “artery” to the Great South Bay, and keeping it clean it is essential.

“Just like if your heart wasn’t feeling too good, and your doctor said to you, ‘Hey your arteries are clogged you gotta clean them,’ that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Todd Shaw explained.

“The Bay is only as healthy as the creeks that flow into it and what we do to those creeks affects the bay in every single way,” Shaw added. “Everyone has to be educated and understand that we’re doing here is symbolic cleanups. It’s going be just as bad three weeks from now, but if everyone pitched in, it would be a different world.”

The some-two-dozen locals who showed up to remove bags full of plastic wrappers, water bottles, and rotted lumber as well as understand the importance of what they’re doing for the place they call home. Among those pitching in was Babylon local, Barry Spanier. He is part of the Boy Scout Troop 2014, which volunteers every year at all the Town of Babylon Creek cleanups.

“I love doing this because I’m a boater myself,” Spanier said. “I really appreciate it and my boys get environmental service hours on top of a good cause,”

There are over a dozen more creek cleanups scheduled to take place all along the south shore throughout the rest of the spring. Trash is constantly building up and the program is always looking for volunteers to help out and get involved.

“Just educate yourself, understand where that garbage goes,” Shaw said. “It’s always amazing (seeing the big volunteer turnout), we always have faith that people are looking for something to volunteer for, we have faith that most people have a good heart and want to make things better and are just looking for an outlet, and we’re that outlet.”

If you love the beaches, boating, or heading over to Fire Island like the average Long Islander, then you should understand the importance of keeping the Great South Bay clean. It might not seem like it, but you have to start somewhere, and keeping these creeks clean is a great

place to start.

“Our motto is ‘start where you stand,’ said Shaw. “In other words, don’t worry about the polar ice caps and the polar bears even though we like them of course, go to your local creek 1,000 yards away from your house, two blocks from your house, understand it, know what it’s all about, understand it’s history from the Indians until today and you’ll really understand its importance and why you have to volunteer.”

Visit to find more Creek Defender events taking place along South Shore Long Island during the months of April and May in 2024.