Penataquit Creek Revival
About Penataquit Creek
Penataquit Creek, in the hamlet of Bay Shore, is a part of the Town of Islip’s Great Cove Watershed and a tributary of the Great South Bay. Like many Long Island streams, it suffers from multiple impoundments, numerous road crossings and the extensive encroachment of development. As a result, its ecological health has been severely impacted. Its water quality has become so degraded that it is one of only eight streams in Suffolk County designated as impaired under the Federal Clean Water Act.
In 2018 Seatuck launched the Penataquit Creek Revival, a long-term effort to improve the overall health of the entire creek and to restore its role in the community. Partnering with numerous local organizations, we are working to advance a series of projects, including storm water improvements, invasive species and debris removal, native plantings, culvert upgrades and native fish restoration. At the same time, we’re working to reconnect the community to the creek through a series of trails, boardwalks and access points, as well as opportunities for engagement in educational and volunteer activities.
Baptist Church Project
A portion of riparian property owned by the First Baptist Church of Bay Shore has been the site of the first Penataquit Creek Revival project. Here, just east of Bay Shore High School, where the braided, shallow stream flows along acres of protected woodlands, Seatuck is partnering with the church and other community partners to establish a restored creekside park. When complete, it will feature native plantings, gathering spaces and viewscapes of the creek. The church, eager to incorporate appreciation and stewardship of the creek into their overall campus, will make the property fully open to the public and accessible to the nearby school for educational programming.
The Baptist Church Project is supported in part by funding awarded to Seatuck from the New York State DEC’s Trees for Tribs program. Since 2007, the program has supported the restoration and reforestation of New York’s small creeks and streams.
Seatuck initiated the Baptist Church Project by conducting a biological assessment of the stream and surrounding natural areas. This effort included botanical and bird surveys, as well as a water quality analysis (part of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Water Quality Assessment by Volunteer Evaluators Program (WAVE).) As expected for a relatively small area surrounded by development, the plant and animal diversity was low and overall ecological health was poor. However, healthy populations of native birds (Song Sparrow, Warbling Vireo, Cedar Waxwing) and plants (Jack-in-the-pulpit, Jewelweed, Wood Fern) provided evidence that the area still contains enough native features, plants and wildlife to have high restoration potential.
The first step in the long journey to restore the Baptist Church riparian area was to clean up the garbage that had gathered in the area over the years. On April 28, 2018, nearly 100 volunteers from the Baptist Church, Seatuck, and numerous local civic and environmental groups joined forces to clean up and remove rubbish and construction debris from the area. The haul (including 42 tires and a piano!) nearly filled a 35-yard dumpster!. A second clean-up in May 2019 attracted even more volunteers and collected a similar pile of garbage from the area. It also included a release of juvenile native Brook Trout!
Seatuck and the First Baptist Church of Bay Shore are grateful for the generous assistance of Quintal Contracting Corp.
In October 2019 we again partnered with dozens of community volunteers to begin tackling the invasive plants throughout the property. The removal of the non-native plants, including Japanese knotweed, multiflora rose, English ivy and a dozen other species, is the first step in restoring the habitat. These species out-compete and replace native plants, which degrades and eliminates habitat for many indigenous wildlife species and create an unstable, unhealthy ecosystem.
The clean-up and removal of invasives continued throughout much of 2020 (with pandemic safety protocols in place). And in the fall of 2021, the planting started! With the help of site preparation from Quintal Contracting. our army of volunteers planted dozens of native trees and shrubs alongside the stream. Over time, as these plants take hold (and invasives are kept out), a healthy, natural riparian buffer will reestablish, which will help protect the creek’s water quality and provide important habitat for native wildlife.
The Baptist Church Project has been powered by volunteers! Since 2018, Seatuck has hosted a series of work days at which volunteers did everything from cleaning up garbage to removing invasive species to planting native trees and shrubs. Want to join our effort?