Mastic Beach Conservancy hosts annual Earth Day cleanup


A Suffolk County environmental organization dedicated to preserving local ecosystems and easing the regional effects of climate change held their first cleanup of the year on Earth Day Saturday.

With gloves, bags, and pickers in hand, more than 50 people showed up, despite the morning rain, to help the Mastic Beach Conservancy, a nonprofit based in the town of Brookhaven, clean up the general area east of Pattersquash Creek between West Riviera and Jefferson below Elm Road West.

“Creating a blue/green trail along our 6-plus miles of beautiful parkland waterfront is our mission. Cleaning up the trash and garbage that has been dumped is part of the process,” said Maura Spery, the president of Mastic Beach Conservancy (MBC) and former mayor of Mastic Beach Village.

Additionally, the group also focused on cleaning out a tire yard at Mastic Beach with nearly 250 abandoned tires, though not all the participants joined in as the process of cleaning them out was very messy and strenuous. “We made a long line and rolled them out. We love what we are doing. It’s like giving Mother Nature a spa day,” Spery said.

“One tire can produce more than 10,000 biting mosquitoes. By that math, we destroyed the homes of more than 2.5 million pests,” Mastic Beach Conservancy wrote in an Instagram post following the cleanup. “Our tired muscles can rest easy knowing our wetlands will be a little cleaner tonight, and our summer a little less itchy. Thank you for giving back to Mother Earth.”

Along with organized community cleanups, Mastic Beach Conservancy facilitates various other kinds of initiatives on Long Island that aim to restore or maintain unstable or vulnerable environments.

Some of their ongoing and developing projects include the Blue & Green trails initiative, which is dedicated to creating nature trails along the Mastic Beach Waterfront; Ecology & Arts Education, which is centered around community and youth education surrounding the environment and wetland’s biodiversity in addition to increasing access to parks and nature for the public; Violet Cove, the development of an ecology and arts center at Violet Cove beach; and Aquafarms, an effort partially inspired by the Billion Oysters Project that involves kelp, oyster, and eelgrass seeding for the health of local waterways and community education.

“Mother Nature is pissed. We try our best to respect her, but we, humans, have kind of screwed up. We at MBC are doing our best to try and turn that around,” Spery said.

Lorraine Hallett is a reporter with The SBU Media Group, part of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism’s Working Newsroom program for students and local media.


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