The Peconic Estuary Program (PEP) is undertaking initiatives estuary-wide to protect and restore plant and animal populations and the habitats in which they live. In 1996, scientists were convened by the PEP to identify areas of particular ecological significance; seventeen “critical natural resource areas” were identified for the purpose of focusing protection efforts. In addition, the PEP supports numerous projects that address the protection of shellfish, finfish and endangered species and the habitats that support them, including eelgrass, wetlands, and natural shorelines. Some PEP recommendations are being pursued by local governments, such as those that address shoreline hardening and the proliferation of docks and piers. Multiple habitat restoration projects, such as those occurring at Cassidy Preserve, Three Mile Harbor and Paynes Creek, have succeeded in removing invasive, nonnative vegetation (common reed, also known as Phragmites) and regrading the site to allow natural tidal flooding and the return of native wetland plants. Efforts are underway to restore diadromous fish access to dammed or otherwise blocked rivers throughout the watershed. In addition, open space preservation is protecting habitats and natural resources before they are fragmented or lost entirely.