Dell Cullum, a wildlife photographer from Amagansett, has had enough of the litter. Every morning, he wakes up early to photograph the Duck Pond Nature Preserve on David's Lane.
"Some people call it the Eden of East Hampton," Cullum said, "Well it’s my Garden of Eden, and I don't like seeing it trashed."
Looking for a place to vent his anger and the need for change, Cullum turned to Facebook with a video he put together. His two-minute 57-second video, "The Sad Truth: Summer In The Hamptons," is a photomontage of the worst offenses Cullum has captured, interspersed with wry commentary. So far, the video has over 180 shares.
The problem, he said, is a lack of respect. During the summer months in particular, the trash begins to build up — cans, bottles, entire garbage bags. On one occasion in particular, Cullum said he saw a man let his dogs go off leash in the park (against village regulations). "The dogs went off running, splashing in the water, chasing after ducks. I yelled after him, 'Hey man! You can't do that, this is a nature preserve.'," Cullum said, "He told me to mind my own business."
Cullum said that the town has changed so much over the years— particularly during his 1979 to 1990 Naval career that the Duck Pond holds a special place in his heart as being one of the few unchanged places. “Somebody needs to come and save it,” he said, “What are we gonna do, stand there and say we can’t do that?”
“Enough’s enough already, you’re stepping on my grounds,” Cullum said, “Eighty to 90 percent of my most popular pieces are from the Nature Trail. I’ve started my day everyday [there] for the last three years. I take it personally, and I know the local people do too.”
"This video is supposed to resemble the things you see on TV," Cullum said, " 'Come on Down! Come spend your vacation money here! Look at the things you can do here that you can’t to other places! You can trash our nature preserves and our beaches and no one will care!'”
The video, which shows rotten food being thrown into the Duck Pond, piles of beer cans on the beaches and stuffed trash bags left for “the town to pick up” is Cullum’s attempt to show people the side of East Hampton they don’t see. “The people from the department of roads and highways do a good job, they clean it up before anyone comes by,” Cullum said, “If you don’t see it, it’s hard to imagine it. So I’m showing you a picture of it. I’m making it more three dimensional.”
In terms of solutions, while the problem is clear, Cullum said, but answers are another story.
“We know who’s doing this. Locals don’t do this sort of thing, it’s not like this the other 9 months of the year. I don’t know what to do, but I think we need stricter laws and better enforcement. It’s not enough for police to just drive by and say everything’s fine. They need to pop their heads out and look around. “
In terms of the future, Cullum said he sees some hope, “I think I’m going to back Larry Cantwell [for Town Supervisior]— when I grew up with him, he was always interested in the beaches and the nature trail. I’m hoping he’s going to change this place.”