Monday, September 1, 2014

Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon Society's Habitat Heroes Rock!

We have been super busy at Huntington-Oyster Bay Audubon this spring and summer with an assortment of events and activities, thanks to our fantastic volunteers, the Habitat Heroes:

Our Earth Day beach cleanup in April hosted our largest group ever- 93 volunteers!  A good time was had by all and we were blessed with gorgeous weather. 

On May 31st we hosted our annual garlic mustard pull at Shu Swamp in Mill Neck with 27 volunteers participating - the largest Shu Crew yet!  We are seeing nice progress in the English ivy area, with jack-in-the-pulpit, red trillium and trout lily repopulating the areas that have been pulled. In addition, after four years of yearly garlic mustard pulls, we have seen a measurable decrease in the amount of mustard in Shu.  Garlic mustard takes a few years to fully eradicate and each year we are seeing less of it.


On June 22nd and July 5th we hosted Beach Nesting Awareness Days with Audubon NY at Hobart Beach in Northport.  The wonderful signs created by kids were on display on the fencing around the nesting areas.  Next year we hope to triple the amount of signs posted so be sure to keep an eye out for our workshop, which will be held in late February or early March!

On July 12th we recognized NYS Invasive Species Awareness Week by pulling oriental bittersweet at Stillwell Woods Preserve in Syosset.  Our 23 volunteers braved the heat and filled over 20 contractor sized bags!

On August 9th 30 volunteers participated in a service day at Stillwell - pulling, whacking, digging and cutting nonnative plant species. 25 bags were hauled out.  Our neighbors in the field, the Long Island Silent Flyers, invited us over to join in their annual picnic.  The volunteers mingled, munched and some of the kids learned how to fly the model planes.  Thank you Flyers!

In addition to these “official” pulls, we have been heading into Stillwell Woods on a weekly basis with our volunteer corps, the Habitat Heroes (aka The Invasive Slayers) since May.  Being unemployed for the second time in four years, while stressful, has allowed me to dedicate a tremendous amount of time to the work we are doing in the preserve.  In May and June we pulled English ivy and garlic mustard.  Once it was past mustard pulling time, we focused our efforts on the field.  In addition to weekly bittersweet pulls we have created two pilot restoration areas.  These two 20’x10’ areas of mugwort have been pulled and covered with black plastic which will remain for 6 weeks.  One area will be seeded with milkweed in the spring, while the other area, which is in between two stands of milkweed, will be left alone.  Our hope is that the milkweed will recolonize this site on its own.  In addition, we hope to work with a consultant to create recommendations for the field…with possible ideas including continued hand pulling, renting goats, a continual mowing for a few years and full out restoration.  We hope to raise some serious funding for this in 2015! Nassau County has been tremendously supportive of our efforts in the preserve, notably Frank Camerlengo, Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Tom Shatel of the Parks Department.  By the way, we haven’t forgotten about Underhill Preserve.  The consultant we hired to map invasives and make recommendations continues his efforts.  This work is taking much longer than we anticipated, but once done, the NYSDEC will begin restoration efforts with the grant funding we obtained last year. 

I would like to take the time out to give a shout out to all of our volunteers.  A huge thank you to the volunteers that have shown up for our highway clean ups and restoration days this past year.  
In addition to the individual volunteers, two groups deserve special thanks.  Members of the Lighthouse Community Church have participated in several of our events. The wonderful members of this church support several nonprofits and we are so proud that we are one of their chosen organizations.  In addition, another group has been working with me on a weekly basis since May – the fantastic young people who are serving as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (“LDS”).  These young men and women (ages 18 to 26) are volunteer representatives of the LDS Church and engage in church service, humanitarian aid and community service.  The members of the group I have been working with hail from various places such as Utah, Oregon, Virginia and even Haiti and are serving in New York for a two year period.  I have been incredibly lucky to work very closely with them for the last few months.  These young people are not only hard-working and dedicated to our restoration efforts; they are an absolute joy to be around and have truly made this summer one I will never forget.   As volunteer coordinator I have the task of overseeing and participating in all of our restoration efforts.  Meeting and getting to know so many of these volunteers has been a true privilege.  Our volunteers rock!

Come out and join us.  We work hard, but we have a great time (and the snacks are darn good too!). To see photos from all of these events, please check out our Facebook page!

We even rescued an injured baby woodchuck!