NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Volunteers hit the streets Monday to celebrate the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day.
For some, the commemoration took on a special meaning this year in parts of the Tri-State Area ravaged by Superstorm Sandy.
In Brooklyn, Home Depot employees joined the National Park Service and National Wildlife Federation to clean up an educational garden for children that is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area at Floyd Bennett Field.
“We can give back to the community, especially those that are in devastated areas,” one volunteer said.
The plot of land was drowned in salt water and destroyed by Sandy, and officials said they are hoping to have the garden back up and running by summer.
“It’s very easy to find people to help you on Earth Day, but it’s something that we want to take advantage of,” the National Wildlife Federation’s Christopher Parker said.
On Long Island, students from the Drexel Elementary School in Westbury put up handmade signs as part of the “Be a Good Egg” campaign in hopes of saving the Piping Plover and other birds that nest on Jones Beach.
“Save us birds, we’re a threatened species,” one sign read. “Please don’t hurt me, I’m cute,” another read.
As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, it was thrilling chance to see endangered shore birds in person after studying them for two years.
“They created iMovies, raised $700 with wristbands, saying, ‘Be a Good Egg,’” said Drexel Elementary School teacher Patricia Matarazzo. “We had raffles, and we just really turned our school over to a Piping Plover school.”
The New York Audubon Society launched the Earth Day campaign to protect beach nesting birds, such as the Piping Plover, that lay eggs on bare sand.
“That’s why we build enclosures to protect the eggs,” one student said. “Someone could drive over the eggs.”
Jillian Liner, Audubon New York’s Director of Bird Conservation, said the signs will capture the public’s attention more than the official notices.
“This is the messaging that they came up with all on their own and we couldn’t have come up with better messaging,” Liner said.
The signs are designed to raise awareness of the thousands of birds that use the beach in the summer time as a nesting ground.
“Ensuring these birds are undisturbed so that they can nest and successfully raise their young is critical to their survival,” Liner said.
And a few miles away in Lido Beach, students with special needs from the Hempstead ANCHOR Program knelt down in the sand, with beach grass plants and gardening tools.
“We’re planting grass on the dunes, to make it beautiful, after what happened here to Sandy,” said Damien Gallo, an ANCHOR Program student.
They were side-by-side with grateful homeowners.
“We need to make one continuous dune, the whole length, to save the whole island from destruction,” said Lido Beach homeowner Ilene Broadman.
Plants stabilize the dunes. Their roots can grow 20 feet down to help combat erosion.
It will take thousands more plantings, but volunteers pledge to replace all of the beach grass from Point Lookout to Atlantic Beach. In all, it’s an area that covers seven miles.
Scientists said Sandy-related damage was less severe in shoreline communities where protective dunes were the highest.
The beach grass plantings in honor of Earth Day will continue on Sundays in April.
Many other events were held throughout the Tri-State Area in honor of Earth Day. Click here to see a few more/a>.