Nature Conservancy’s Beaches And Bays Gala To Honor Charlie Marder

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What would Long Islanders be without the sea? The Nature Conservancy on Long Island will stress the importance of the ocean and water quality at its Beaches and Bays Gala on Saturday. All proceeds will go toward the protection and management of Long Island’s wetlands, bluffs, dunes, beaches, bays and underwater habitats—the organization’s mission.

The Nature Conservancy will also honor Marders Nursery owner and conservationist Charles Marder for his dedication to the conservancy and the environment.

Starting at 7 p.m., the gala, curated by Silas Marder, Mr. Marder’s son, will feature local artists whose works evoke the beauty and value of water, including James Prosek’s watercolor paintings entitled “Ocean Fishes.”

According to Nancy Kelley, the conservancy’s executive director, his work reinforces what the conservancy is trying to protect.

The paintings “are a symbol of what it means to live here, of the food we love to eat, and activity that people enjoy engaging in,” she said. “But all fish need clean water to thrive and that is something being compromised here on Long Island due to nitrogen pollution from sewage in our waters.”

Aurora Robson will show off her sculptures made from discarded plastic she found at the shore, and actor Christian Scheider will serve as the auctioneer for “fund-a-project” and for several water-related items.

Another of Mr. Marder’s sons, Tucker Marder, will also put his talents on display for the benefit with a puppet show using puppets he’s created from natural materials.

Fred Stelle, a member of the board of trustees who is hosting the benefit with his wife Bettina, said although Mr. Marder is being honored this weekend, his whole family deserves recognition.

“Charlie is a very quiet, unassuming guy who is used to working behind the scenes, as is his whole family. That’s what’s impressive about them,” Mr. Stelle said. “They’re doing the right thing by trying to engage in proper support for the environment for the generation to come.”

Mr. Marder, who grew up in Springs, first became involved with the Nature Conservancy 24 years ago to maintain native landscapes and control invasive plants. He has served on the organization’s board of trustees since 2004 but continues to be hands-on. According to Mr. Stelle, Mr. Marder does a lot of pro bono work on conservancy stewardship projects, which include the conservation of the Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island and sites in East Hampton, Southampton and on North Fork.

“He’s known for having the capability of finding large, mature and healthy plants,” Mr. Stelle said. “He’s also a believer in sustainable, natural systems—he long ago gave up selling chemical fertilizers and is a sponsor of beekeeping preservation efforts. He is arguably one of the most important, influential landscape contractors out here. He’s the keeper of the flame.”

The Beaches and Bays Gala will be held at the Nature Conservancy’s Center for Conservation in East Hampton. Tickets start at $750. To purchase tickets and obtain more information call 329-3987, extension 19.

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