"I Love My Park Day" brought some much-needed TLC to .
From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 5, volunteers toiled away on the shores of the park's Northwest Pond and some fisherman, clad in knee-high rubber boots, even headed into the water to remove as much trash as they could.
The community clean-up event at the 775-acre state park, which straddles West Hempstead and Rockville Centre, was hosted by the newly formed non-profit organization, .
"I've been coming here for about 10 years and it's a great park, it's huge but it doesn't get the recognition it deserves," says Chris Carter, president of the HLSPA.
As a lifelong West Hempstead, Carter, 27, says he and his friends have wanted to do something like this for years to bring more awareness to what the park has to offer and address its . Inspired by the good turnout at the clean-up event that was held at the , which was coordinated by Alex Jacobson, owner of the nearby , and the Parks Department, Carter, along with fellow West Hempsteaders Joel Ruiz and Adia Bethel, and Teresa Reid, of Floral Park, decided to form the non-profit.
"We wanted to get more people involved," Carter said. "Now, we're just doing some clean-ups and trying to get the word out."
For now, the group is focused on coordinating more clean-up events and "getting the word out," but going forward, he says, they'd like to team up with local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, community organizations, and schools, including science clubs and sports teams.
"If all goes well we can get some more art events, craft fairs, kayaking on the lake ... bird watching, just to get people more immersed in nature right in their own backyard," he said.
For Saturday's clean-up project, HLSPA partnered up with park manager Bill Brown, who supplied the pickers, garbage bags and vehicles and manpower to haul away the trash.
"We're looking for all the help we can get from the community and volunteers," Brown told Patch. He also explained what's causing the pollution problem.
"It's street run-off from local villages that ... end up here in Norh East Pond and North West Pond," he said. "It's stuff that people throw out of their cars, bottle caps."
All the trash discarded along Peninsula Boulevard for instance runs off into a creek that flows past Hempstead High School and into the park's two north ponds, Hempstead Lake and then eventually the South Pond and the bay.
Despite Saturday's dreay weather, roughly 50 volunteers pitched throughout the day. They came from the immediate area, but also from Hempstead, Glen Head, East Meadow, Bay Shore and Wantagh.
By the end of the day, the volunteers had removed tons of garbage from the area, but they weren't the only ones showing their love of state parks that day. Projects to address pollution and other environmental issues were also held at Caumsett, Hecksher and Bethpage state parks on Long Island, and others throughout the region.
Click through the gallery above to see photos from the event.