The Foster Marina Park Project

Removing Invasive Vines


Foster Marina Park, located in Sayville in The Town of Islip, New York, was chosen by The Long Island Conservancy as a top priority as the organization launched this October.   It’s eight acres, sitting on The Great South Bay, was infested with invasive species of all sorts.   Porcelain Berry, Wisteria, Oriental Bittersweet, Bamboo, Multiflora Rose, Burning Bush, Mugwort, English Ivy, Japanese Honeysuckle, Wisteria, Garlic Mustard, Grape, and Norway Maple just covered the wooded areas.  The park is about 95% invasive.   It is a major vector for these weeds as far as a bird can fly or the wind can carry them.   The plants in this park are now all over our parks and in our yards.   

It is only now that people are really noting the enormous problem we face on Long Island when it comes to invasive species.   That is because we are losing badly.   Their growth is spiraling out of control — everywhere, all over Long Island.   It was here then that The Long Island Conservancy decided to make a stand:   Remove the invasive species, and restore nature to this park, and show all of Long Island just what is possible in terms of habitat restoration and community action.

We approached The Town of Islip with our plan.  

Marina Park Project

65 people from Sayville and surrounding communities gathered together to remove invasive plant from Foster Marina Park on October 17th, filling 8 truckloads.

The first of eight truckloads

We can make this 8 acres on the Great South Bay so beautiful once we remove the invasive plants and plant natives. Note that as it stands this park is a major source of invasive wisteria, English Ivy, Bamboo and Porcelain Berry in yards nearby and “as the crow flies.” We need to draw a line right here and reclaim our park for us and future generations.

Here are some “before pictures”:

With 107 parks alone to maintain, they welcomed the help.   On October 17th, The Long Island Conservancy kicked off its work with an invasive removal event that drew 65 people — The Rotary, The Chamber of Commerce, The High School, and several student groups within it took part.   We rented an excavator, and all worked for 4 hours.   We planted a wildflower bed 2000 sq ft long, and planted a grove of some 30 native trees.  All labor and expense, which we estimate was worth $20K, was donated.  The Town of Islip carted off 8 truckloads of invasive weeds the next day.  The park was on its way to being transformed.   

On November 14th, in response to repeated calls from local neighbors to keep at it, 14 of us worked for 4 hours to clear around the Elm Street Entrance and in so that a pollinator garden could be planted.  The patch also had (has) a horrific wisteria problem.  [Please note Figure A for a rendering of this proposed garden].   We’d also proposed to the TOI that the park be re-commemorated, and a descriptive sign be placed at this location.

During this last week, much progress was made removing the wisteria roots from the patch in front, to the point where we are at a good place to take a step back and draft this document for The Town of Islip, offering here our vision for this park.

Next Steps

We were out in the park most mornings continuing to work away, and on weekends, and we were met with almost universal support — the dog walkers, the young mothers with their carriages, the power walkers and runners, the couples from the nursing home, wheeling in every day, one pushing.  All this has demonstrated what we’d hoped:  Local stewardship was how we could heal our public spaces.  The people of Sayville cared so much for this local park that they would jump in, families, school kids, retirees, all working in common effort. 

This park stands to be a showcase for how to return Nature to our public spaces.   The Long Island Conservancy’s expertise is drawn from habitat restoration’s leading practitioners.   By putting back what would be there if we weren’t, what should be there but was pushed out, we can heal our land, even if it’s only one lot at a time.

The park will, through the use of QR codes on signage, inform the public as to what plants they are looking at, what invasives to watch out for, best yard practices, etc — whatever web content we want to send them to, really.

The ultimate goal of the project will be this:   Create local wildlife habitat, particularly for birds.  WIth nothing for native insects, and therefore native birds to eat, the park is eerily silent.  The park’s woods are now lifeless and with all the English Ivy, a potential vector for Lyme ticks, an issue we would do well to avoid.

Please note our renderings, beginning Figure B.   This could be national news if done right.

Here are the invasive species now in the park that we have been removing:

  1. Wisteria
  2. Oriental Bittersweet
  3. Porcelain Berry
  4. Japanese Honeysuckle
  5. Mugwort
  6. English Ivy
  7. Multiflora Rose
  8. Burning Bush
  9. Norway Maple

Here is a list of the native plants now planted in the park:

  1. American Chestnut
  2. Red Maple
  3. Sassafras
  4. White Oak
  5. Scarlet Oak

[ Need Full Inventory.   Will create hyperlinks for each plant]]

We also created a wildflower bed 12’X250 ft along the north side of the tennis courts.  This involved running an excavator to remove a truckload of invasive growth and having a truckload of wood chips delivered and dispersed over the area.   We donated 10 lbs of native wildflower seeds and raked them into the bed.  TOI DPW then extended the bed 50 feet further east, excavating yet more invasive growth and spreading out the remaining chips;  additional wildflower seeds ought to be raked in here as well.  A 3000 + square foot wildflower field will greet us in 2022.

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