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PEP Talk is the Peconic Estuary Program's quarterly newsletter. To subscribe to our newsletter, please complete the form below. Please make sure you provide all required information. If you would prefer an electronic version provide your email address below.


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News Briefs
2017-03-06 - Horseshoe Crab Internship 2017

Horseshoe Crab Internship 2017


Internship Description

2017-03-06 - Journalist Internship 2017

Journalist Internship 2017

Internship Description
2017-03-06 - Water Quality Monitoring Internship 2017

Water Quality Monitoring Internship 2017

Internship Description
2017-03-06 - Terrapin Monitoring Internship 2017

Terrapin Monitoring Internship 2017

Internship Description
2017-03-06 - Salt Marsh Restoration Internship 2017

Salt Marsh Restoration Internship 2017

Internship Description
2017-02-15 - State And Local Funds Will Aim To Improve Water Qu
2016-08-12 - PEP CAC announces a Special Summer Topic Meeting

PEP CAC announces a Special Summer Topic Meeting

Peconic Estuary Program Citizen’s Advisory Committee Special Summer Meeting at Stony Brook Southampton's Marine Science Center Monday August 22, 2016 from 5:00-8:00pm

Join PEP and its Citizens Advisory Committee as we discuss topics relevant to the protection and health of our estuary. Presentations from local experts and impactful project leaders will share their work and experience. This meeting will focus on our Nitrogen footprint to our marine waters -- it's many sources, effects on the estuary, and projects aimed at reducing inputs to the Peconic Bays. Presentations from members of Stony Brook's Clean Water Center, The Nature Conservancy, and the Peconic Estuary Program will be featured. The meeting is open to the public and summer residents are strongly encouraged to attend. Stony Brook Southampton Marine Science Center 235 Montauk Highway (at Little Neck Road) Southampton, NY from 5:00-8:00pm. Email for more information.

 As a member of the Peconic Estuary Program (PEP) Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), you can help spread public awareness of the estuary while advising the PEP about important goals and concerns of the citizens of Long Island's East End. Why is the health of the Peconic Bays important to you? Do you enjoy boating, kayaking, fishing or bird watching in the Peconic Estuary? Does the health of your family or business rely on the health of the local environment? Maybe you want to learn more about the issues and challenges facing the bays while being involved in future restoration and management activities? Attend this meeting and find out more!

2016-07-25 - Ludwigia pull rescheduled for Wed. July 27th

Ludwigia pull rescheduled for Wed. July 27th

Water primrose (or Ludwigia peploides) is a freshwater invasive plant in the Peconic River that out-completes native plants, reduces biodiversity, blocks sunlight to oxygen producing plants, and impedes fish habitat and recreational use of the river. Using kayaks and boats, we will remove Ludwigia during this day-long evnt. Bring water, lunch, and sunscreen. Kayaks and PFDs will be provided or bring your own! Meet at the Edwards Avenue Dam and Kayak Launch in Calverton, NY. Email for more information and to register.

Register at our Facebook page:

Or Email

More on the blue-green algae bloom that postponed the 7/12 event and changed our location:

Watch more about NYSDEC removing Ludwigia on News12:

2016-05-27 - Summer Newsletter Has Been Issued!

Summer Newsletter Has Been Issued!

Read the full newsletter. Click on the Summer 2016 link on the right or click on the link below


2016-05-24 - President Obama signs into law a reauthorization o

President Obama signs into law a reauthorization of the National Estuary Program!

For Immediate Release
May 24, 2016
Press Contact: Jennifer DiSiena
(202) 225-3826 or (202) 431-9210 
Rep. Zeldin Announces Funding for National Estuary Program
Washington, DC – Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1), member of the Long Island Sound Caucus and Congressional Shellfish Caucus in the House of Representatives, announced that legislation he supported in the House of Representatives to reauthorize the National Estuary Program (H.R.944/S.1523) was signed into law by President Obama on Friday, May 20, 2016.
The new law authorizes $26.5 million in funding for the National Estuary Program, which includes two nationally recognized estuaries on Long Island: the Long Island Sound and the Peconic Estuary. The funding will be used for water quality and wetlands restoration, as well as other local conservation projects to restore local beaches and protect wildlife. The bill ensures that funding will be prioritized to address urgent and challenging issues that threaten the ecological and economic well-being of coastal areas including nitrogen, harmful algae blooms, and flooding or wetland loss.
Congressman Zeldin said, “On the East End of Long Island, we must be committed to safeguarding our environment and improving our water quality. Over the years, water quality on Long Island has suffered severely from issues such as pollution, overdevelopment and the dumping of dredged materials. This new law, which I was proud to support in the House, would ensure that Long Island’s estuaries receive the funding needed to improve and protect our waterways. There is much we can do to improve water quality on Long Island, and I will continue working in Congress to ensure our waterways are preserved for generations to come.”
“The Peconic Estuary Program is grateful to Congressman Zeldin for his support of this important bill,” said Dr. Alison Branco, the program’s Director. “For nearly 30 years, the National Estuary Program has demonstrated that these locally- driven, non-regulatory programs can successfully protect Estuaries of National Significance, like the Peconic Estuary and Long Island Sound. We work with the community to craft and implement action plans to solve environmental problems at the watershed level to preserve the healthy, productive ecosystem that supports our coastal economy. With this renewed mandate from Congress, the Peconic Estuary Program looks forward to updating its Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan and tackling the challenges facing our estuaries today and into the future.”
2016-05-23 - Preventing another potential fishkill in the Weste

Preventing another potential fishkill in the Western Peconic

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For Immediate Release: 05/20/16

Contact: Benning DeLaMater | (518) 402-8000

Press Office |



Commercial fishermen will help agencies manage menhaden population

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Town of Riverhead are partnering together to mitigate the impact of a potential large-scale fish kill in the Peconic River, DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.

“DEC continues to work with all partners to identify strategies that will improve water quality in the Peconic River and limit the potential impact of a large-scale fish kill,” Acting Commissioner Seggos said. “Increasing the menhaden harvest is one way we can help combat this issue. We will be vigilant this coming summer to monitor the situation as conditions for fish kills become more prevalent."

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) recently approved the DEC’s request to allow commercial fishermen to catch more menhaden, also commonly referred to as bunker, in order to reduce the number that might otherwise perish during a die-off. Local commercial fishermen are working together with DEC and the Town of Riverhead to harvest as many fish from the river as possible in the coming weeks.

The removal of these additional fish is being done to 1) improve chance of survival of the remaining fish; 2) use the fish caught beneficially as bait instead of having to dispose of carcasses on the shoreline; 3) eliminate or reduce the magnitude of a fish kill.

The Peconic River is Long Island's longest river and has a history of fish kills over the years, including in 1999, 2000, 2007 and 2009, often resulting in more than 1 million dead fish.  The area also exhibits poor water quality with increased nitrogen levels which can exacerbate the magnitude of the fish kills.

Most recently, during the spring and early summer of 2015, DEC estimated roughly 300,000 adult Atlantic menhaden died and washed up along the shores of the Peconic River in Riverhead. Menhaden are an important forage fish for species such as striped bass, bluefish, sea birds and other marine mammals.

But predatory fish, such as bluefish, can herd large quantities of menhaden into small water bodies such as the Peconic River, where the concentration of fish results in oxygen depletion and eventual asphyxiation.  This occurs more frequently during warmer months.






Currently, DEC is seeing a larger number of menhaden in the Peconic River than is typical for this time of year. A recent overflight by New York State Police with DEC staff revealed huge numbers of menhaden in the Peconic Bay system. The ASMFC has allowed New York to harvest an additional 1 million pounds of menhaden in the Peconic River as part of their episodic event program. To date, New York’s commercial fisherman have harvested over 300,000 lbs of menhaden from the river, but there are still far greater numbers remaining than expected.

The DEC, Town of Riverhead, and commercial fishermen are combining efforts to continuously monitor the menhaden population in the Peconic River. Though necessary efforts have been made to reduce the population size, there is still an unusually large number of fish in the river so the potential risk that a fish kill could occur remains high for 2016. DEC staff along with the Town of Riverhead and Suffolk County are monitoring the conditions in the river daily and are prepared to respond to a fish kill should one occur.  DEC staff across Long Island are also prepared to assist in the event of a fish kill.




Connect with DEC on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube




2016-05-21 - PEP Celebrates World Fish Migration Day 2016

PEP Celebrates World Fish Migration Day 2016

Happy World Fish Migration Day 2016! Check out what PEP is doing in the Peconic River to open upstream spawning grounds to fish and eels! Then visit the rock ramp in Grangabel Park, Riverhead to enjoy an award winning fish passage project that is just as beautiful as it is functional. Visit our Vimeo page and see the video here:

2016-02-24 - PEP Spring Newsletter has our latest news on the P

PEP Spring Newsletter has our latest news on the Peconics!

The PEP Spring 2016 Newsletter is here! (click on the link in the right hand column)

Topics of Interest Include:

Information on the new Managment Plan 
The creation of the Peconic Estuary Protection Committee
Community Stormwater Stewardship Pilot program for the Peconics
Stormwater Pollution and ways you can help reduce runoff
Creature Spotlight: Ospreys
Caring about and for the Peconic Estuary
And the PEP SPring 2016 Calendar of Events!

Please email with your feedback! 

2016-01-25 - Nitrogen Contamination Hearings Set for early next

Nitrogen Contamination Hearings Set for early next week

Long Island Regional Planning Council, DEC set hearings on nitrogen contamination


Dead bunker fish float at the marina behindDead bunker fish float at the marina behind the Riverhead Moose Lodge in Riverhead on June 17, 2015. Officials tied this fish kill and others to increased nitrogen in the water, which led to dramatic drops in oxygen levels. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona



  • Groups to develop ‘action plan’ to combat problem
  • Excess nitrogen fuels algae blooms, kills fish, adversely affects water

The Long Island Regional Planning Council and the state Department of Environmental Conservation will jointly host three public hearings next month on nitrogen contamination of Long Island’s waterways as they prepare to embark on a multimillion-dollar study of the issue.

The council has a state grant of nearly $1.8 million, which will be used to hire outside consultants to help develop a Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan, John Cameron, chairman of the planning council, announced during Wednesday’s council meeting. He said the DEC has an additional $3.2 million to help create the action plan.

Most Popular

Excessive nitrogen in water can fuel algae blooms, result in the killing of fish and adversely affect the Island’s groundwater and surface water.

MapSuffolk sewage statusMore coverageWater quality on Long Island

The nitrogen comes from a variety of places — storm runoff, fertilizer use, sewage treatment plants and antiquated septic systems. The nitrogen forms microorganisms that break down in sewage, manures, decaying plants or fertilizers.

“The state wanted the planning council’s input,” Cameron said. The state is drawing upon a model that utilized the council’s predecessor agency — the Long Island Regional Planning Board — in the 1970s and 1980s, which drew up a water and wastewater management system plan, he said.

“The state wanted to utilize that model to manage a similar initiative” to study problems caused by nitrogen in the Island’s waterways and devise solutions, Cameron said.


The public hearings are scheduled to be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on all three days: Feb. 1 at the Suffolk County Water Authority Education Center, 260 Motor Pkwy., Hauppauge; Feb. 2 at Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center, Multipurpose Room, 20 E. Main St., Riverhead; and Feb. 3, at Hofstra University’s Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center, Multipurpose Room East, on the North Campus, Hempstead.

Cameron at this week’s meeting also announced the council has received financial commitments to fund its operations from both Nassau and Suffolk counties, at $250,000 each, which will enable the council to hire a new executive director.

WaterLook up contaminated sites

The council has been without an executive director since Cara Longworth resigned last February to become the Long Island regional director of the Empire State Development Corp.


Nassau County has included council operating funds in its approved budget, the county press office confirmed. Funding from Suffolk County comes from the county’s Economic Development Corp., said Tony Catapano, the EDC’s deputy executive director.

2015-11-11 - A Day in the Life of the Peconic Estuary 2015!

A Day in the Life of the Peconic Estuary 2015!

Check out these videos about the Day in the Life of the Peconic Estuary Program!

Peconic Community School

From East Hampton Star 


2015-11-11 - Climate Change, the EPA, and PEP

Climate Change, the EPA, and PEP

PEP is a climate ready estuary. Watch this EPA produced video for more on our estuary wide assesment!
2015-10-26 - New Funding Opportunities offered by NEIWPCC

New Funding Opportunities offered by NEIWPCC

New Funding Opportunities offered by NEIWPCC within the Peconic Estuary and others:

2015-10-15 - Fall Newsletter Issued!

Fall Newsletter Issued!

Read more about the PEP Call to Action Conference and Upcoming Events.

Click on the link in the right column --------------------->

2015-09-03 - September Photo Contest and MORE!

September Photo Contest and MORE!

âª#‎CelebrateTheCoast⬠during the month of September!! 
PEP is celebrating the Peconic Bay estuary all month long. We will be featuring a photo contest, 5K run/walk, staff stories, a citizen conference, and more! Stay tuned and start posting those photo submission to our page today!

Find events and volunteer opps at a National Estuary near you!




To celebrate our Estuary we are holding a month long photo contest in September. Submissions of the estuary, critters that live there or other relative photos will receive a pen and sticker. Grand prize to be given in October. Contest starts September 1st. Submit through Facebook or Don't forget to send us your mailing address.



Saturday September 5, 2015


Cedar Beach Southold, NY 9:00am

âª#‎CelebrateTheCoast⬠and the âª#‎PeconicEstuary⬠by participating in our run/walk event. For more information visit Pre-regsitration is recommended to ensure a T-shirt. Day-of registration available.



Tuesday September 22, 2015
Riverhead, NY

The Peconic Estuary Program cordially invites you to attend our annual Call to Action Conference on September 22nd in Riverhead, NY. The conference spotlighting citizen stewardship will take place from 8:00am-12:00pm at the Seastar Atlantis Ballroom 431 E. Main Street. A site tour of the Riverhead Sewer District Indian Island GolfCourse Irrigation Project will follow from 1:00pm-3:30pm 2 River Rd. Riverhead, NY 

The conference is free and open to all citizens interested in water qualities issues within the Peconic Bays watershed.

Registration at EventBrite:
nteractive website:




2015-09-01 - Homeowner Rewards Program!

Homeowner Rewards Program!

Click this link for the Rewards Program Page


2015-06-26 - Summer Newsletter Issued!

Summer Newsletter Issued!

Click on the article in the right hand column to read more ---->
2015-06-12 - County assembles panel to discuss die-off of fish
2015-06-02 - Peconic Estuary Fish Kill 2015
2015-06-01 - NEXT PEP CAC MEETING JUNE 15th



Media Advisory
Peconic Estuary Program Citizen’s Advisory Committee Meeting

The Peconic Estuary Program (PEP) will be holding their next Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on Monday evening June 15th from 6-8pm at East Hampton Town offices located at 159 Pantigo Rd. East Hampton, NY. Members from the Peconic Baykeeper, Peconic Green Growth, and the Peconic Estuary Protection Committee will be a part of this early summer meeting. Become actively involved in the conversation about the issues concerning the vitally important Peconic Estuary.

Do you enjoy boating, kayaking, fishing or bird watching in the Peconic Estuary and want to learn more about the issues and challenges facing the bays while being involved in future restoration and management activities? Join the Peconic Estuary Program (PEP) Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). As a member, you'll help us spread public awareness of the estuary while advising the PEP about important goals and concerns of the citizens of Long Island's East End. Exercise your right as a stakeholder of the PEP – the coordinating entity that works toward clean water and healthy bays in our community.

The PEP CAC meets four times per year. The dates for the remaining 2015 meetings are September 10th location TBD (joint meeting between Long Island Sound Study and PEP CAC’s) and November 18th from 1:00-3:00pm at Cornell Cooperative Extension 423 Griffing Avenue Riverhead, NY 11901. For more information, please e-mail

2015-05-31 - Massive fish kill reported in Riverhead, Southampt
2015-04-28 - EPA honored Michael Reichel

EPA honored Michael Reichel  
2015-04-08 - A New Face For Peconic Estuary Protection
2015-04-01 - SPRING 2015 NEWSLETTER



2015-03-12 - Peconic Green Growth Eyeing East Marion for Pilot
2015-02-11 - Rain garden rebate program expanded across Peconic
2015-02-05 - PEP Partners Grant Program 2015 recipients!

PEP Partners Grant Program 2015 recipients!

1. The Conscience Point Shellfish Hatchery Sustainable: Aquaculture: A New Maritime History
2. Peconic Green Growth: Expanding Public Awareness of Pollution and Sea Level Rise in the Peconic Estuary
3. Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission: A Day in the Life of the Peconic Estuary
4. Quality Parks: Quality Parks Master Naturalist Peconic Estuary Hub

Each awardee will receive $5,000 to fund their projects and further the goals of the PEP CCMP, linking restoration projects with public participation.

Public participation, education, and outreach are central to the PEP’s mission to protect and restore the Peconic Estuary. The purpose of the Partners Grant Program is to provide funding to increase public understanding of the estuary’s ecology and how humans impact it; promote stewardship of the estuary’s ecosystem; and boost public participation in its restoration and protection. Through this grant program, the PEP works together with the community to achieve its goals for protecting and restoring the Peconic Estuary ecosystem.

2015-02-03 - Suffolk County Water Quality Protection and Restor

Suffolk County Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program Call for Applications

The Suffolk County Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program (WQPRP) is pleased to issue a call for applications for requests for funding.  While all project types listed in the “Instructions” may be considered, funding will be prioritized based on of the targeted areas listed in the “Call for Applications.”  All applications will be due back to the Water Quality Improvement Division of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning by close of business on Friday, February 20, 2015.



Hard copies of the applications are to be sent to Frank Castelli’s attention at the address listed below.  While we require both hard and e-copies of the application, if either is received prior to close of business on Friday, February 20, 2015, the deadline will have been met.


The WQPRP Review Committee is planning to convene during February 2015 to consider funding requests. 

Applications are due in to the Water Quality Improvement Division of the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning by 4pm on Friday, February 20, 2015. Please send completed applications to

It is anticipated that the average award will be approximately $50,000 and will not exceed $125,000 of County funds requested.  Announcements of awards will only be made pending funding availability.  The WQPRP Review Committee is not obligated to recommend any projects for funding.  All recommendations will be decided by a quorum vote of the WQPRP Review Committee.

Priority Areas

While all project types listed in the Instructions may be considered, funding will be prioritized based on how projects demonstrate a clear ability to accomplish the stated objectives in one of the following targeted areas:

1.     Projects that involve the remediation of nonpoint source stormwater discharges - for instance:

a.     Demonstration projects for green infrastructure implementation on municipal properties


2.     Surface and Groundwater nitrogen reduction projects – for instance:


a.     On-farm demonstration projects that work with farmers to implement best management practices to reduce nitrogen leaching and pesticide usage


b.     Demonstration projects for municipalities and/or homeowners to implement best management practices to reduce nitrogen leaching and pesticide usage


c.     Other pilot projects that demonstrate innovative methods to remediate groundwater


3.     Potable water demand reduction - for instance:

a.     Demonstration projects to reduce the seasonal demand for irrigation using potable water – projects may include innovative wastewater effluent reuse – for municipalities and homeowners


4.     Protecting Estuaries of National Significance from large scale point and nonpoint source pollution.


The applications will be accepted from any County Department, any Suffolk County municipality and not-for–profit organizations.  Projects being proposed from private companies will not be eligible for funding.  Direct project costs will be eligible for funding.

Project Readiness

All approved projects must have a funding resolution adopted by the Legislature within one year of the award notice. All funding resolutions will specify that the project must be complete within three years of the adoption of the funding resolution.

Matching Funds

All proposed projects, that are not solely Suffolk County department projects, will require a match of at least 50% of the total project cost.  The availability of the match must be demonstrated at the time of the application submittal.

Other Requirements and Criteria


·       An organizational budget, including expenses and all sources of public and private revenues for the proposed project.

·       A list of potential metrics to measure the success of the grant over the grant period.

·       Background information about the applicant’s organization and the qualifications of the project's key personnel.

·       A copy of the organization's tax exemption letter from the IRS (for not for profits - IRS 501(c)(3) status).


·       Projects should address issues that fall within our designated categories.

·       Projects should propose solutions that address the root cause of the problem(s).

·       Projects should contain clearly defined and measurable outcomes.

·       Projects should exhibit the greatest potential for success and contain the most beneficial use of this grant funding.

2015-01-30 - Position Announcement

Position Announcement

We are pleased to announce that we are hiring for the new Peconic Estuary Program Coordinator position! The position has been posted on the Current NEIWPCC Openings webpage. Please forward this announcement to qualified candidates. Apologies for any cross posting.
2015-01-19 - Volunteers come out for Southold's first Dr. King
2015-01-14 - A golf-course innovation that hits the green
2015-01-05 - Town, county to use sewer plant to irrigate golf c
2014-12-30 - Job Opening: Protection Committee Coordinator

Job Opening: Protection Committee Coordinator

Peconic Estuary Protection Committee Coordinator Position Description   Brief Description of Responsibilities: The position is a part-time Coordinator for the Peconic Estuary Protection Committee, established through an Intermunicipal Agreement (IMA) of member municipalities (including Suffolk County and East End towns and villages) and the New York State Dept. of Transportation. The Coordinator will be responsible for working with the Peconic Estuary Protection Committee IMA members and the Peconic Estuary Program (PEP) to facilitate coordination and leveraging of resources, planning, grant writing and providing technical expertise for the IMA participating members. The Coordinator will report to the Peconic Estuary Protection Committee.   Duties:      ·         Hold regular meetings of the IMA members and coordinate with the members to prioritize actions, lead implementation tasks, maintain focus on priorities, and report progress;   ·         Monitor key regulatory issues regarding priority topics identified by the committee and keeping members informed on the important issues that affect them (including review and comment on draft legislation, water body classifications/TMDL development, changes in regulations, etc.);   ·         Identify grant opportunities and prepare grant applications for priority projects; ·         Assist with administration of IMA grant funding;   ·         Coordinate with other IMA groups to collaborate on Long-Island wide issues of importance and explore collective opportunities, such as training sessions, joint programming, legislative initiatives, lessons learned, public events, etc.; ·         Coordinate with the PEP and Peconic IMA members to collect, organize and make available shared resources, including MS4 Program elements, public education materials, sample legislation, etc.;·         Work with the IMA committee to establish priorities for upcoming years and establishing the Annual IMA Work Plan and budget based on member priorities; ·         Document IMA efforts for inclusion in MS4 annual reports.   Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in Natural or Physical Sciences such as Environmental Sciences, Engineering/Architecture, Biology, Ecology or a related field and a minimum of four years of demonstrated experience with municipal operations and natural resource management. Experience in management and/or communications and with knowledge/background in natural sciences, may be considered.   Skills and abilities: Required skills include excellent public speaking skills and the ability to effectively communicate and coordinate with the IMA membership and municipal decision makers, facilitate regular meetings and lead outreach activities. Excellent project management skills and computer literacy (including Microsoft Office Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.) are a must. In addition, experience with GIS, website editing/management, blogs and social media are desirable. Experience in grant writing and administration is also highly desirable. The candidate must be energetic and have excellent organizational and research skills. Familiarity with the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4), water quality regulations/total maximum daily load (TMDL) requirements, local municipal zoning codes and Peconic Estuary planning studies is highly desired. The position will require substantial travel within eastern Suffolk County, and occasional travel within western Suffolk and Nassau Counties.    Salary: This is a part-time independent contractual position with no benefits. Salary will be commensurate with experience.   Applications: To apply, send a cover letter and resume via e-mail (preferred, with “IMA Coordinator” in subject line) or by mail to: Peconic Estuary Protection Committee c/o Alison Branco 360 Yaphank Avenue, Suite 2B Yaphank, NY 11980 or Applications will be accepted until January 18, 2015. Candidates should be prepared to supply references upon request and attend an interview in Riverhead, New York if contacted.    
2014-12-01 - Check out our facebook and twitter pages!
2014-11-04 - Peconic Bay scallop season opens with a bang
2014-10-28 - Governor Cuomo Announces $39.5 Million for Water Q

Governor Cuomo Announces $39.5 Million for Water Quality Improvement Projects Across the State

Press Release: 

List of Projects:

2014-10-07 - Southampton Students Participate In Peconic Estuar
2014-10-06 - For Island students, it's hands-on marine science
2014-09-26 - Clean water volunteers #toastthecoast
2014-08-27 - New Regulations Seek to Prevent the Spread of Inva

New Regulations Seek to Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species in New York State
2014-08-13 - Low levels of rust tide confirmed in Peconic Estua
2014-06-25 - Teaming up to mitigate pollution in Mattituck and
2014-05-18 - County backs study of alternative waste systems in
2014-05-16 - Bellone and Hahn Announce: Legislature Approves Fu
2014-05-14 - Bellone Calls to Designate the LI Sound and Peconi
2014-04-27 - Cleaning the bays with conservation landscaping
2014-04-23 - Environmental coalition pitches water quality reco
2014-04-22 - Trout release a rite of spring at Longwood schools
2014-04-18 - Shipping, energy production, fishing: What does th

Shipping, energy production, fishing: What does the future hold for the Mid-Atlantic Ocean?
2014-04-17 - Navy making good on pledge to clear water of conta
2014-04-08 - Peconic Land Trust planning to restore former Exxo
2014-04-07 - Alewife spawning season booms in Peconic River
2014-03-27 - Big Duck to be site of rain garden demonstration
2014-03-08 - Alewives! Become a volunteer monitor of this migr

Alewives! Become a volunteer monitor of this migrating fish species!
2014-02-27 - Restoring Alewife Migration
2014-02-05 - Riverhead Town set to bond $9M for big sewer upgra
2014-01-10 - Bellone, Mangano put focus on water quality
2013-12-19 - Suffolk County Water Quality Protection and Restor
2013-11-02 - Scallop season looks hopeful after summer of water
2013-10-03 - Reeves Bay Residents Can Get Money for Native Plan
2013-10-02 - Rust tide reaches eastward in Peconic Estuary
2013-09-26 - Nationwide "Toast The Coast" For Nationa
2013-08-04 - East Hampton signs on to protect Peconic Estuary
2013-07-08 - Suffolk County Drinking Water Quality Report

Suffolk County Drinking Water Quality Report
2013-05-04 - CMEE Family Fun Day Is Saturday
2013-04-04 - The benefits of beneficial bugs: Aquebogue farmer
2013-03-27 - Aquaculture Lease Program Meeting Scheduled For Ri
2013-03-06 - Return of the Native

Return of the Native

How we almost lost the Peconic Bay scallop—and why we’ve almost got it back. “Scallops again?” That this incredulous, thankless question was ever posed around my family’s table suggests that I grew up in some odd, alternate universe where we not only took the fruits of our local estuaries for granted, we believed they were something to complain about. This was back in the 1970s and early ’80s on eastern Long Island, where Peconic Bay scallops ruled not just the table but the local economy, too—to the tune of several million dollars annually. Bay scallops are much smaller and sweeter than sea scallops. But you might ask, What’s so great about a Peconic Bay scallop? What makes it any different from a bay scallop from, say, Nantucket or Florida? In a word: terroir. Just as two identical grapevines grown in two different fields can yield completely different-tasting wines—or, perhaps in a more fitting example, the way an oyster from one part of the watery world has a completely different flavor, size and texture from another (would you ever mistake a Kumamoto for a Blue Point?)—so, too, does the Peconic Bay scallop stand apart. Thimble-size, cylindrical and with a sweet, velvety flesh, they were so incredibly plentiful that their shells were nearly a nuisance on the rocky beaches of Shelter Island, where I grew up, and in the those sandy shelves lining the waters of the Peconic Bay, which ebbs and flows between eastern Long Island’s North and South Forks. “I’d take a Peconic Bay scallop over a sea scallop any day!” says Dave Pasternack, chef and co-owner of Esca. “It’s a no-brainer—nothing better than a good Peconic Bay scallop. Nothing. “We live in a world in which size matters, whether it’s your car or your scallop,” he continues. “Customers always want to see the big ones, but the smaller bay scallops are typically a lot more tender. They’re firmer and sweeter than Nantucket’s, which tend to be softer. And they usually have higher content of sugar, so when you sear them quickly you get this great caramelization.” Back in the day, my dad would get bags of bivalves so cheaply from the local baymen, he sold them alongside the “turf” in his butcher shop, and brought them home for us to eat on a weekly basis. At mere single-digit dollars to the pound, it was an inexpensive way to change up our family’s usual diet of pork chops and chicken and hamburgers. On the first day of scallop season, which typically runs from fall to early spring, it seemed like at least half the able-bodied boys in the high school wing of Shelter Island’s one-building school were absent, out helping to bring in a big haul to sell. Even my sister Laura spent a cold winter or two in our neighbor’s garage, squat knife in freezing hand, opening a mountain of scallops to earn a little extra cash. But for the region, scallops earned more than just a little cash—it was a lot. According to a report from Cornell Cooperative Extension, Peconic Bay scallops contributed nearly half of eastern Long Island’s $10 million commercial fishing industry annually, supporting up to 600 full-time jobs for scallopers alone. “It’s hard to describe if you weren’t there—it’s hard for anyone to imagine because there were so many scallops when I was growing up,” says lifelong bayman Ken Clark, whose family were part of the earlier waves of settlers of Shelter Island centuries ago, and who have made a living from the local waters for generations. “There were hundreds of people catching [scallops] for months. There’s nowhere as many as there used to be.” That’s because in 1985, the unthinkable happened: The Peconic Bay scallop all but disappeared. In its place was a choking algae bloom that turned the waters of the Peconic Bay from pretty blue-green to a frightening coffee-brown. It didn’t look good, and it wasn’t. Dubbed the “brown tide,” its source was a bacteria-size, single-cell algae that exploded all over eastern Long Island’s waters, keeping bathers on the beach and, beneath the surface, taking a much more sinister toll. It was so invasive, it squashed other healthy algae, some of which the Peconic Bay scallop relied upon for food. But that wasn’t all it killed. The murky, mysterious algae also prevented light from reaching the sea floor, where bay scallops nestled in a local seagrass called “eelgrass.” The eelgrass needs that dappled sunlight to grow, and when it didn’t get it, began to die off. No eelgrass, no scallops. Chris Pickerell, Cornell’s marine program director and habitat restoration specialist who’s been working for 20 years to bring the eelgrass back, says sea scallops can’t thrive without healthy habitat. “Eelgrass forms large dense ‘meadows’ that alter water flow and sediment dynamics,” Pickerell explains. The grass creates a dense sanctuary for young fish and other sea life, keeping them safe from predators, like crabs. But it wasn’t only scallops’ predators that were the danger. Bay scallops are filter feeders, and spent an inordinate amount of energy filtering out the brown-tide algae they can’t digest in search of something they could. Inevitably, they starved to death. By the mid-’80s, Peconic Bay scallops were on the brink of extinction. No cries of “Scallops again?” were heard ’round the dinner table. For a frightening couple of decades it seemed as if the memory of those sweet, plump, tender shellfish would remain just that: a memory. “I do remember eating them my whole early life,” says Pasternack of childhood family treks to eastern Long Island. As he grew up, those once-abundant shellfish his parents picked up from a little white shack just before old Montauk Highway suddenly became scarce. “They just disappeared, and we didn’t know why.” But after the total dropoff of the ’80s and slim pickings of the ’90s, things began to turn around, thanks to dogged work by Cornell and Long Island University, federal and state grants and volunteer programs like Southold Project in Aquaculture Training (the acronym SPAT is also the name for the shellfish at its smallest and most vulnerable size). These programs and others like them have been filling fishmonger shelves with quart containers full of the cream-colored sweet little orbs. While the restoration has many moving parts, central to the success has been funding to reduce pollutants leaking into the estuary via stormwater and wastewater treatment plants. Then there’s the work toward the restoration of the eelgrass by Pickerell and his team, who find sites well-suited for eelgrass, and conduct test plantings. “If these work,” he says, “we scale-up to larger and larger plantings until a self-sustaining population is created.” The final linchpin: bay scallop cultivation. “ ‘Seeding’ the bays involves the creation of large numbers of bay scallops that will survive to spawn, and thus produce greater numbers of future generations,” says Smith. This begins at the world’s largest bay scallop spawner sanctuary, which houses over half a million baby bays until they are of spawning size. Then, under the watchful eye of Smith, his colleagues and SPAT volunteers, they are carefully spawned in the safety of nets and cages at the county-owned, state-of-the-art shellfish hatchery in Cedar Beach. The goal: to reestablish the bay scallop and associated fisheries to numbers that existed before 1985. “To date, the project has been responsible for over $3 million in direct landings of bay scallops worth $17 million to the regional economy,” Smith says. “Hundreds of jobs have been created and a heritage industry partially restored.” Brown tide has not been completely eliminated and the work is not nearly done, but the decades-long efforts have paid off. Each year has produced more Peconic Bay scallops than the one before. And while we’re not even near the days when the opening of scallop season coincided with a drop in high-school attendance, the words “scalloping industry” aren’t yet an oxymoron, either. Official statistics weren’t ready at the time this story was written, but it looks like each of the last two years will easily beat out 2010’s decent 40,000-pound harvest (that’s weight in meat, not shells), which earned a little more than a half million in profit. “There was a good run this year, and the size was superb,” says Pasternack, “Oh yeah, we were getting 40 count to the pound! There was a good quantity around.” Recently, I went to a Peconic Bay scallop and oyster tasting at Jimmy’s No. 43 in the East Village, with Cornell aquaculture specialist Gregg Rivara and his oyster-farming wife, Karen, telling salty tales while shucking shellfish and opening bivalves to a small but hungry crowd. I brought along a friend who’d never had a Peconic Bay scallop. As we scooped the meat from the shells off plates piled high with Rivara’s in-shell version, gently cooked in butter and wine, my friend’s eyes grew wide as she raved: “I’ve never had anything like this! It’s…sweet and so tender. My God, I love them!” It was exciting to see someone discover that unique flavor for the first time, and as I sat there savoring the last of mine I thought maybe, just maybe, the bay scallop won’t become the kind of history that only old timers talk about. If we’re lucky, Long Island kids will be complaining about them for generations to come. If you open Amy Zavatto’s freezer too fast, you might break a toe when frozen blocks of Peconic gems fall out.
2013-03-04 - Peconic Institute Gains Nonprofit Status

Peconic Institute Gains Nonprofit Status

The Peconic Institute has officially been granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, a leap forward for the spiritual successor to the sustainability studies program at Stony Brook Southampton. John Botos, who was among the first students to take part in the Shinnecock Hills campus' undergraduate sustainability studies program, has been appointed the executive director, after acting in that capacity on a provisional basis since the board of directors was named in September 2012. Botos holds a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies and a Master of Arts in marine conservation and policy from Stony Brook University, according to the institute. The institute was founded to be a "think tank for sustainability," according to New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, to tackle the major policy issues confronting the future of the Peconic region. This week, Thiele said in an institute statement, "The Peconic Institute was nothing more than a dream a little more than a year ago. Now, it is a reality. The Peconic Institute has a Board of prominent community leaders, a well defined mission to make the East End a sustainable place to live in the 21st century, and a new home at the Southampton campus." Thiele said this was made possible through Botos' efforts, and he also noted that Botos was one of the leaders of the student movement to keep the sustainability studies program at Stony Brook Southampton, when the university decided to curtail the program and uproot it to the main campus in Stony Brook. "He has never wavered in his goal to make the Southampton campus a center for sustainable studies," Thiele said of Botos. "The Peconic Institute will fulfill that goal, which we all share" The Peconic Institute will be an indispensable part of policymaking and problem solving on the East End, Thiele said.

2013-03-01 - Volunteer Alewife Surveys

Volunteer Alewife Surveys

HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE 2013 LONG ISLAND ALEWIFE SURVEY Where to Survey: The survey can includes any tributary on Long Island, regardless of size or location. Please let us know where you would like to survey or if you need help in identifying a suitable location. The best survey sites are generally on bridges or culverts with broad views of calm, shallow water. Monitoring Schedule: The survey runs from March 15 to May 15. Participants are encouraged to commit to at least one location and conduct consistent surveys of the same site, preferably with some variability in the time of day and tide cycle of the visits. Of course, as any surveying is good surveying, participants may also monitor multiple sites and/or include irregular visits to various locations. Questions? Enrico Nardone (631)581-6908 Julie Nace (631)444-0871
2013-02-08 - RFP for PEP Outreach and Education Services

RFP for PEP Outreach and Education Services

On behalf of the Peconic Estuary Program, the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) is inviting proposals for the implementation of a multi-faceted community education and outreach program for the Peconic Estuary Program. The program shall increase public awareness about key issues facing the long-term management of the estuary and cultivate an informed constituency of community members who shall advance the conservation and management objectives of the program at the local level.

Proposals must be received by 11:59 pm (EST) on Friday, February 8th, as described in the Request for Proposals (RFP). Please click on the following link to view and download the RFP:

Inquiries about this RFP should be directed to Emily Bird ( or Julie Nace (

2012-12-19 - ExxonMobil donates waterfront property to Peconic

ExxonMobil donates waterfront property to Peconic Land Trust

The ExxonMobil Company has donated two acres of waterfront property in Greenport to the Peconic Land Trust, and given Southold Town and Greenport Village a conservation easement ensuring that the land will remain undeveloped forever. The property, on the southeast corner of Fourth and Clark streets, was used to store petroleum products between 1924 and the mid-1980s, when the facility was closed. The State Department of Environmental Conservation later ordered a cleanup of polluted soil, which was completed in 2003. In April, ExxonMobil removed metal sheeting on the beach that had become exposed in storms last winter. The property has 600 feet of shorefront on Shelter Island Sound. The Peconic Land Trust said the property will be developed over five years as a passive recreation site, with walking trails and similar low-impact uses. The group also plans to remove invasive species that have grown there over the years, replacing them with beach grass and other native plants.
2012-12-03 - Sylvester Manor And Peconic Land Trust Announce Pr

Sylvester Manor And Peconic Land Trust Announce Preservation Of Additional 57.1 Acres On Shelter Island

Sylvester Manor Educational Farm and the Peconic Land Trust have announced the preservation of an additional 57.1 acres on Shelter Island. The preservation was made possible through the sale of development rights to Suffolk County and the Town of Shelter Island and will increase the number of acres conserved by Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island to more than 105 acres. Sylvester Manor already had 22 acres of waterfront habitat and woodland preserved through a conservation easement donated to the Peconic Land Trust in 2009. In August, Sylvester Manor secured the sale of development rights on 26 adjacent acres and and with the recent acquisition of an addition 57.1 acres, over 105 acres of Sylvester Manor property have been protected. "Protecting a second parcel of the historic Sylvester Manor property is a remarkable achievement, both for the local and county governments and for the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm. We now have a significant landholding preserved for future generations, and with it a crucial foundation for the Educational Farm and its mission. So many people contributed to making this effort a success, and I am both indebted to them and proud of the community that supported it," said Eben Fiske Ostby, Sylvester Manor owner and 10th-generation proprietor. For more information on Sylvester Manor visit For more information on Peconic Land Trust visit
2012-11-20 - Harvesting a New Morsel in Peconic Bay

Harvesting a New Morsel in Peconic Bay

The bay scallop season on eastern Long Island has begun, and for the first time, a small amount of cultivated scallops will be sold in the shell, thanks to a new state regulation that went into effect in July. Unlike scallops sold shucked, which grow wild in Peconic Bay, these do not have a minimum shell size (but those pictured above are not ready; they will be returned to the bay for another month or so). Gregg Rivara, an aquaculture specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, has been working with four Peconic Bay oyster farmers to develop a cultivated scallop industry as a way to diversify. Cornell provides tiny seed scallops, which the farmers place in the bay and harvest in mesh cages, like those used for oysters. The cultivated scallops, a very small crop this year, will be sold mostly to restaurants. Peak season runs until late December. Steamed in white wine, they are tender, sweet and briny; it’s easy to eat 15 to 20. You’re eating the whole animal, not just the muscle. But scallop lovers may wonder about the deep red roe, which usually comes with scallops in the shell in Europe. These bays are not mature enough to have roe, Mr. Rivara said. Empire State In-Shell Scallops are available from Cornell Oysters of Hog Neck Bay, (516) 971-7254, among others. The scallops will be served in a tomato broth, $18.95, at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal, starting Monday for several weeks, depending on availability.
2012-11-19 - Southampton Town Trustees Tour Sandy Damage At Red

Southampton Town Trustees Tour Sandy Damage At Red Creek

On Friday morning, two Southampton Town Trustees along with Marty Shea, chief environmental analyst for the town, and Robert Young, a coastal geologist, toured the Peconic Bay beachfront along Red Creek Road in Hampton Bays. Walking along the beach, it was clear that Hurricane Sandy had taken her toll — cliffs sat crumbled, bluffs and bulkheads desecrated and at least two summer houses were destroyed. Stunned by the damage, Trustee Fred Havemeyer said that the town trustees have a lot of work to do. The tour, according to Eric Shultz, president of the trustees, was the first step in deciding on what actions need to be taken to remediate the area. What was clear as the officials walked was that a comprehensive policy will be needed, especially when it comes to shore-line hardening structures, such as bulkheads. Both Shea and Young immediately pointed to damage sustained by the cliffs, especially the ones that sit on either side of a bulkhead. The damage, Young said, can be in part due to the bulkhead itself, as the structures push wave energy off to neighboring properties. The trustees have long frowned on shore-hardening structures and according to Shultz, trustees will be carefully examining any emergency bulkhead rebuild applications that come in as a result of Hurricane Sandy. So far, trustees – who govern the beach front from the high water line – have received 10 such bulk head applications. Those applications, Shultz said, will be expedited. However, there will be a review process to ensure that the replaced bulkhead will not pose a threat to neighboring properties. The trustees will also explore other methods, including native plantings and boulders, said Shultz. After touring numerous properties after Hurricane Sandy, Shea pointed out that properties that were shored up with native plantings seemed to weather much better because, he said, native plantings absorb wave energy. As to docks, Shultz said any resident with a dock damaged by Hurricane Sandy can apply for a rebuild, provided they have an existing permit and the dock was built within the last ten years. Older docks will be subject to a new application process due to new regulations regarding pressure treated wood. So far, the town has received 50 such applications. And when it comes to dune restorations, residents can apply for a free 30-day permit. However, when it comes to rebuilding some living quarters along Red Creek, Shea said the conservation board there will be taking a hard look at applications. For example, pointing to two structures that were severely damaged, Shea said they will most likely not be allowed to rebuild with electric and plumbing. "They can probably just use them as storage in the future," said Shea, noting that residents wishing to build on the bluffs are basically playing Russian roulette with their property. "What people don't always understand is that we have rules in place not only to protect the environment, but also their property," he said. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2012-11-16 - Additional Shellfish Beds Opened

Additional Shellfish Beds Opened

NEWS New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens For Release: IMMEDIATE Contact: Lori Severino Friday, November 16, 2012 (518) 402-8000 DEC RE-OPENS ADDITIONAL SHELLFISHING AREAS IN EAST END TOWNS OF SUFFOLK COUNTY The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced it has partially rescinded temporary emergency shellfish closures that were implemented in Nassau and Suffolk Counties in response to the coastal flooding and power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy. DEC had initially implemented the shellfishing closures on Monday, October 29 to protect public health. Some areas were reopened on November 7, November 8 and November 14 based on examination of water samples. DEC collected additional water samples in many areas around Long Island earlier this week. Testing of those samples showed that water quality in more areas was suitable for harvesting shellfish. Effective on Friday, November 16 the harvest of shellfish, including bay scallops, is permitted in the following areas: Town of Southold: All the normally certified shellfish lands in Orient Harbor lying southerly of a line extending easterly from the landward end of the jetty on the east side of Spring Pond to the western end of the long dock at the Orient Yacht Club, including all the normally certified shellfish lands in Hallock and Little Bay; and, all the normally certified shellfish lands in Pipes Cove, Southold Bay and Shelter Island Sound, lying northerly and easterly of Paradise Point on Great Hog Neck; and, all of the normally certified shellfish lands in the creeks, harbors, bays that are tributaries of Great Peconic Bay and Little Peconic Bay. Town of East Hampton: All the normally certified shellfish lands in Three Mile Harbor, Hog Creek, Napeague Harbor and Lake Montauk.Town of Shelter Island: All the normally certified shellfish lands in Shelter Island Sound lying northerly and easterly of Crab Creek Point. Town of Southampton: All of the normally certified shellfish lands in Shinnecock Bay, Sag Harbor, Cold Spring Pond and North Sea Harbor, including all of the normally certified creeks, harbors, bays, ponds and tributaries along the north shore of the Town of Southampton. However, several areas remain closed to the harvest of shellfish, through November 21, including: The northern portion of Orient Harbor in the Town of Southold; all of Accabonac Harbor in the Town of East Hampton; outer Hempstead Harbor adjacent to the Towns of North Hempstead and Oyster Bay; southern Cold Spring Harbor in the Towns of Oyster Bay and Huntington. Additionally, the following enclosed bays along the southern shore of Long Island remain closed: Hempstead Bay, South Oyster Bay, Great South Bay, Nicoll Bay, Patchogue Bay and Bellport Bay. The closures were implemented and extended to protect the public health. The prolonged strong easterly winds, full moon and storm surge caused by Hurricane Sandy caused significant coastal flooding that inundated septic systems and wastewater treatment systems in some low lying areas. Sewage treatment plants experienced temporary bypasses causing less than fully treated sewage to be discharged into certain shellfishing areas. When water quality in the enclosed creeks, coves, harbors and bays is adversely affected by such discharges, shellfish in those areas have an increased potential to be hazardous for use as food. DEC will continue to collect water samples for bacteriological testing over the next few days. Additional areas will be re-opened as soon as possible based on the results of the laboratory analyses of those samples. A recorded message advising harvesters of the status of these shellfish areas may be heard at (631) 444-0480. The message will be updated during the course of the temporary closures. If you would like a more detailed description of the closed areas please call the office during normal business hours at (631) 444-0475. Additionally, information about temporary closures is available on DEC’s website at:
2012-10-28 - USGS Storm-Surge Sensors Deployed Ahead of Tropica

USGS Storm-Surge Sensors Deployed Ahead of Tropical Storm Sandy

RESTON, Va. Storm response crews from the U.S. Geological Survey are installing more than 150 storm-tide sensors at key locations along the Atlantic Coast -- from the Chesapeake Bay to Massachusetts in advance of the arrival of Tropical Storm Sandy.Working with various partner agencies such as NOAA, FEMA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the USGS is securing the storm-tide sensors, frequently called storm-surge sensors, to piers and poles in areas where the storm is expected to make landfall. The instruments being installed will record the precise time the storm-tide arrived, how ocean and inland water levels changed during the storm, the depth of the storm-tide throughout the event, and how long it took for the water to recede."In the hours and days before Irene made its epic sweep up the eastern seaboard last year, USGS deployed a record number of storm-surge sensors that yielded important new information on storm tides along some of the most populated coastline in the United States," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "Now with Sandy we have the opportunity to test and improve predictive models of coastal zone impact based on what we previously learned."Storm-tides are increases in ocean water levels generated at sea by extreme storms and can have devastating coastal impacts. In locations where tidal forecasts are known, the sensors being installed can also help determine storm surge. For differences between storm-surge and tidal-surge, visit the National Hurricane Center's website.This information will be used to assess storm damage, discern between wind and flood damage, and improve computer models used to forecast future coastal inundation.In addition, rapid deployment gauges will be installed at critical locations to provide real-time information to forecast floods and coordinate flood-response activities in the affected areas. The sensors augment a network of existing U.S. Geological Survey streamgages, which are part of the permanent network of more than 7,500 streamgages nationwide.Of the sensors deployed specifically for Sandy, eight have real-time capability that will allow viewing of the storm-tide as the storm approaches and makes landfall. Besides water level, some of these real-time gauges include precipitation and wind sensors that will transmit all data hourly. All data collected by these sensors and the existing USGS streamgage network will be available on the USGS Storm-Tide Mapper link at information to support future forecasts could ultimately save lives during future storms. These sensors were deployed for the first time during Hurricane Rita in 2005. Before then, scientists had limited data available to study the effects of storm surge."Forecasters at the National Weather Service rely on USGS real-time and long-term data to improve storm surge models and prepare storm-tide warnings," said Brian McCallum, assistant director of the USGS Georgia Water Science Center, who is helping coordinate the sensor installation effort. "Floodplain managers, federal, state and local emergency preparedness officials, emergency responders, scientists and researchers all benefit from the storm-tide and associated flood data. It’s useful for flood damage prevention and public safety."The USGS studies the impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms to better understand potential impacts on coastal areas. Information provided through the sensor networks provides critical data for more accurate modeling and prediction capabilities and allows for improved structure designs and response for public safety.The USGS also continuously monitors water levels and flows at thousands of the nation's streams on a real-time basis. The public can access this information for their area at the USGS Current Streamflow Conditions web page. Also, USGS WaterAlert allows users to receive a text or email from the USGS when waters are rising in rivers and streams near them.For the latest forecasts on the storm, listen to NOAA radio. For information on preparing for the storm, or
2012-10-19 - 20th Anniversary Press Event

20th Anniversary Press Event Please join us at Meschutt Beach (Hampton Bays), to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Peconic Estuary Program (PEP)! Local elected officials and PEP staff will be sharing some of their experiences over the years and hopes for the future of the Peconic Estuary Program. Much has been accomplished over the past twenty years of working to protect and restore the Peconic Bays, but there is still more work to be done. As all East Enders know, a healthy Peconic Estuary is critical to our East End economy and way of life.
2012-10-19 - Work to protect Peconic Estuary praised

Work to protect Peconic Estuary praised

A large group of federal, state, county and local officials huddled Friday in the small wooden building that once was the Flanders Club, keeping out of the rain and praising 20 years of work in protecting the Peconic Estuary. As the officials spoke, the rain did what it always does in Flanders, washing down on the lands around Peconic Bay and gently working its way into the water. The group included County Executive Steve Bellone, Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), state Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), Legis. Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) and four East End town supervisors. Also on hand were Joan Leary Matthews, regional director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Peter Scully, regional director of the state Department of Environmental Conservation; and a group of dedicated environmentalists -- all active in preserving the bay, one of just 28 estuary systems recognized by the EPA as being of national significance. "It's a force that brings people together," said Alison Branco, a marine biologist in the Suffolk Department of Health Services office of ecology, and who runs the county's Peconic Estuary Program. "People on the East End love it." Since getting the special designation, state and federal grants and research programs have helped manage some of Peconic Bay's worst problems, but there are ongoing efforts to preserve open space around the bay, keep pesticides and other pollutants from washing into it from streets and adjoining lands and control cesspool wastes. Each of the 16 speakers signed a pledge when they finished their remarks, promising to "restore and protect the equality of the Peconic Estuary." As they spoke, they stood in front of a window overlooking Peconic Bay, and many of them saw different things. Bellone, who comes from Babylon, saw something beautiful and vast, a part of the county that people from his densely populated town can visit. "We have this incredible place on the East End to go to," he said. "Thank you for protecting this resource." Bishop saw an economic engine. "We talk a lot in Washington about job creators," he said. "Peconic Bay is a job creator." Schneiderman noted that county sales tax revenue for the third quarter was up 14 percent. "That number is heavily dependent on tourism," he said. "You're looking at the reason."
2012-10-12 - Safer Waterways Act signed by County Executive Ste

Safer Waterways Act signed by County Executive Steven Bellone

Flanked by two mothers who lost daughters in boating accidents, County Executive Steve Bellone Thursday signed legislation that requires everyone who drives a motorboat registered in Suffolk to complete a safety course.

Bellone and other officials and boating safety advocates said they hope the law, the first in the state, will spur New York lawmakers to enact a statewide requirement.

"This historic boating safety legislation . . . is designed to prevent the kind of tragedies we have seen this summer and, unfortunately, in too many summers past," Bellone said. "It is now time for New York State to act so there is uniformity."

State Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick) has introduced a bill establishing statewide mandatory education that he hopes will be acted on early next year. He called the Suffolk law "a tremendous boost for my legislation."

The Suffolk requirement will take effect one year after the legislation is filed in Albany, probably in October 2013, so boaters will have until the end of next year's boating season to take a course.

After that, licensed boaters who lack a safety certificate when stopped by law enforcement officers would face a $250 fine for the first offense, $500 for the second and $1,000 and up to a year in jail for subsequent violations.

County Legis. Steve Stern (D-Huntington) introduced the measure after several fatal boating accidents this summer.

As Bellone signed the bill at the edge of the Connetquot River, he was joined by Lisa Gaines of Huntington, whose daughter Victoria, 7, was one of three children killed when a cabin cruiser capsized in Oyster Bay on the Fourth of July, and Gina Lieneck of Deer Park, whose daughter Brianna, 11, was killed in a 2005 collision on the Great South Bay.

"We would like to move this up the ladder to the state and federal level," Gaines said afterward.

Said Lieneck: "Today is the first step in ensuring the safety of all boaters."

Stern estimated 75,000 to 100,000 Suffolk boaters would need to take a course over the next year and said there should be enough classes for them. The law doesn't apply to nonmotorized vessels, such as sailboats.

"This is common-sense legislation," he said. "I know it will prevent tragedies."

Lawrence Postel, district commander for U.S. Power Squadrons, a national boating safety group that offers courses, said Thursday, "We are going to ramp up."

The Coast Guard Auxiliary also offers courses, which generally cost about $50.

2012-10-03 - DATE CHANGE: First Annual Save Our Seagrass Fundra

DATE CHANGE: First Annual Save Our Seagrass Fundraising Campaign and Celebration November 17th

First Annual Save Our Seagrass Fundraising Campaign and Celebration To benefit Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Marine Meadows Program

Good Afternoon Marine Meadows Supporters,


The recent storm has left a path of destruction across our region, and unfortunately our marine resources have felt the impacts as well.  As we come together to rebuild our coastal communities and homes, we must also keep in mind the importance of habitat to our local marine life that we so heavily rely on for economic purposes and recreational enjoyment.  You can do your part in helping us re-establish spawning, nursery, and foraging grounds for our finfish such as flounder and striped bass, and shellfish such as bay scallops and clams by coming out to our Save Our Seagrass Fundraiser. 


This event, originally scheduled for November 10th will now take place on Saturday, November 17th from 5-8pm at the South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo) in Bridgehampton.  


To those of you who have already purchased tickets and sponsorships, thank you, and I sincerely hope you are still able to make it to the event.  For those of you interested in purchasing tickets, they will be available leading up to the event by filling out and sending in the attached form, or dropping it off at the South Fork Natural History Museum.  Tickets will also be available at the door; cash, check, or credit card payments will be accepted (walk-ins will be welcomed, but if you know you will be buying tickets at the door it would be greatly appreciated if you can RSVP in advance of the event by contacting me). 


Thank you again for your continued support of our efforts.  I hope everyone is recovering from the storm, and I look forward to seeing you on the 17th!    





Kimberly Barbour
Habitat Restoration Outreach Specialist
Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program
3690 Cedar Beach Rd
Southold, NY 11971
tel. (631) 921-0302
fax (631) 852-8662

South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo), in partnership with Save Sag Harbor and the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, will be hosting a Save Our Seagrass Celebration to benefit Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Marine Meadows Program on November 17, 2012 from 5-8pm at their Bridgehampton facility. The celebration will feature a raw bar of locally harvested shellfish, freshly prepared Peconic Bay Scallops, local wine and craft beer. All proceeds will support local habitat restoration efforts and environmental education initiatives as carried out by the Marine Meadows Program. Leading up to the celebration, a Save Our Seagrass Fundraising Campaign will be in effect. Sponsorships from local businesses and individuals are being sought and will allow for eelgrass meadows in the vicinity of Sag Harbor to be “adopted” by the community. Funds raised will allow CCE staff members to conduct the required monitoring and restoration plantings needed to establish healthy meadows that will serve as essential habitat for species such as winter and summer flounder, striped bass, and bay scallops. Additionally, proceeds from this effort will allow for educational opportunities in the form of Marine Meadows Workshops to be offered at the South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo) in 2013. These workshops will enable community members of all ages to learn about the importance of underwater marine habitat such as eelgrass, and get involved with the actual eelgrass restoration efforts by preparing planting units to be deployed by CCE’s SCUBA certified restoration specialists. Several levels of sponsorship are available and all levels include marketing benefits and tickets to the Save Our Seagrass Celebration on November 10th. Individual tickets are also available for purchase. The Sponsorship Package and Ticket Order Form are available at,, or can be picked up at the South Fork Natural History Museum. Please contact Kimberly Barbour, Habitat Restoration Outreach Specialist at or 631-852-8660 ext. 27 if you would like more information on the Save Our Seagrass Fundraising Campaign and Celebration. Cornell Cooperative Extension is funded in part by Suffolk County through the office of the County Executive and the County Legislature. Cornell Cooperative Extension in Suffolk County provides equal program and employment opportunities.

2012-09-26 - Bellone Says Suffolk Will Develop First New Farmla

Bellone Says Suffolk Will Develop First New Farmland Protection Plan

Press Release COUNTY OF SUFFOLK OFFICE OF THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE H. Lee Dennison Building 100 Veterans Memorial Highway P.O. Box 6100 Hauppauge, New York 11788-0099 (631) 853-4000 Steven Bellone SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE Press Release September 26, 2012 Contact Information: Vanessa B. Streeter (Office) 631-853-7801 (Cell) 631-885-2298 County Executive Bellone Says Suffolk Will Develop First New Farmland Protection Plan Since 1996 New York State Department of Agriculture Provides $50,000 Grant to Fund Plan (Hauppauge, NY-September 26, 2012) – Pointing out that Suffolk County has not overhauled its Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan since 1996, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced plans to take a new look at Suffolk’s plan as the evolving agricultural sector faces new challenges. Through this planning effort, funded by a $50,000 grant from the New York State Department of Agriculture, in-kind services from the County and a grant of $10,000 from the Long Island Community Foundation, the County will identify specific strategies to strengthen the agricultural sector and expand its economic viability, while ensuring that farmlands and natural resources will be available for future generations. According to Bellone, “Although Suffolk is number one in the state in terms of total value of agricultural products our agricultural sector has come under increasing economic pressures, including a trend to convert farmland to housing. In order to ensure that valuable agricultural resources are available for future generations, it is essential that farmland protection measures and sound land stewardship practices continue.” The Department of Economic Development intends to conduct a farmland protection planning effort that will result in the development and adoption of an update to its 1996 Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan, in furtherance of its goals to protect viable farmlands and natural resources, to preserve its pastoral character, and to promote the agricultural industry on Long Island. The update will address the following three topics: • Sustainable local agricultural economic development, • Agricultural land stewardship, and • Access to affordable farmland. The outcome of this farmland protection planning effort will be a set of specific strategies that may be implemented to expand economic development opportunities in the agricultural sector. It is anticipated that the updated plan will ensure that viable farmlands and natural resources will be available for future generations and will improve the overall the health and economy of the county. According to Deputy County Executive and Commissioner of Economic Development & Planning Joanne Minieri, “The total value of agricultural products that will be sold in Suffolk during 2012 is estimated at approximately $294 million. Additionally, the prime soil on Suffolk’s East End enables wine, horticulture and agri-tourism markets that sustain Suffolk’s $2 billion tourism industry. This is a critical industry in Suffolk County and revamping our protection plan to reflect this evolving sector is a priority.” State Agricultural Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine said, “Protecting and preserving New York’s agricultural landscape is extremely important for local economies. Suffolk County is one of New York’s largest agricultural counties, and this funding will help County Executive Bellone and his team plan for the County’s agricultural future.” “In furtherance of our efforts to conserve Long Island’s working farms, the Peconic Land Trust is honored to assist Suffolk County to update its Agricultural Protection Plan. Our thanks to Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Aubertine, Suffolk County, the Long Island Community Foundation, and the Long Island Farm Bureau for making it possible. We look forward to fulfilling our role in this effort,” said John v.H. Halsey, President, Peconic Land Trust. “The Long Island Community Foundation (LICF) applauds Suffolk County for securing a New York State Agricultural Protection planning grant,” said David M Okorn, Executive Director. “LICF has a long history of supporting the Peconic Land Trust in its partnership with Suffolk County to involve the community in creating strategies that will sustain the farming industry so integral to Long Island’s identity, culture and economy. Long Island Farm Bureau Director Joseph Gergela said, “The Long Island Farm Bureau is extremely pleased with Suffolk County Executive Bellone’s plan to develop new strategies for protecting Suffolk’s agricultural land. The vigilance of the agricultural community and the partnership between farmers, Suffolk County, the Peconic Land Trust and the LICF will be critical to the future economic viability of Suffolk’s farming industry.”
2012-09-12 - Thiele & LaValle Create CPF Advisory Opinions

Thiele & LaValle Create CPF Advisory Opinions Bureau


Thiele & LaValle Create CPF Advisory Opinions Bureau Posted on 12 September 2012 Since its inception in 1998, the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund has raised approximately $757 million, which the five East End towns have used to preserve open space, farmland, historic buildings and places as well as recreational fields. During its tenure as a resource for preservation, the bounds of the CPF have been questioned for concepts like a 2008 proposal between East Hampton, Southampton and Sag Harbor to use CPF funds to preserve Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, which was ultimately deemed a purchase that went beyond the intentions of the law. The revenue for the fund is derived from a two-percent real estate transfer tax. It expires on December 31, 2030. Last week, the architects of the CPF, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. and New York State Senator Ken LaValle, announced they have created a Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund Advisory Opinions Bureau in an effort to have a specific group ensure the effective and consistent administration of the fund. The 11-member bureau will also provide legal opinions and interpretations regarding any questions that are raised about how the five East End towns — East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Southampton, Shelter Island and Riverhead — are expending their CPF monies. A representative from each of the five towns, appointed by the town supervisor, will serve on the board as will a representative from each of the East End villages. Thiele and LaValle will also appoint five members of the public at large. “This Advisory Bureau will institute oversight measures to help protect the integrity of the Community Preservation Fund,” said Thiele. “The Peconic Bay Region taxpayers and communities deserve to know that the Fund is being implemented appropriately and consistently throughout the region.” “Transparency and accountability to taxpayers is essential to the fund’s continued success,” said Senator LaValle.

2012-09-10 - DEC Finalizes New York State River Herring Regulat

DEC Finalizes New York State River Herring Regulations

For Release: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 DEC Finalizes New York State River Herring Regulations New York adopted the final changes to regulations that will reduce fishing mortality of river herring and create a sustainable fishery, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. River herring (alewife and blueback herring) are anadromous fish that spend most of their life in the ocean but return to their natal rivers to spawn. \"River herring are part of New York\'s native fauna and need to be more intensively managed to provide long-term, sustainable populations,\" said Commissioner Martens. \"These unique fish are important to New York\'s waters and many New Yorkers enjoy their return to tidal waters each spring.\" In the Hudson River, commercial and recreational anglers primarily use these fish as bait for striped bass, but some are taken for human consumption. Because information on the status of the river herring populations is available for the Hudson River and its tributaries and DEC can assess that status of these populations, a continuing fishery is allowed, though a reduced fishery. Since little data is available on stock status in other New York waters, implementing a moratorium on river herring fishing is required. The adopted rule restricts the current fishery in the Hudson River, and all tributaries and embayments by: Establishing a recreational open season and a daily creel limit. Permitting angling only (e.g. no nets) in the tributaries and embayments. Reducing the size of allowable nets in the Hudson River proper. Requiring charter boats to register with the DEC to be eligible for a special boat creel limit. The rules for commercial fishers include: Increasing restrictions on net use and size. Establishing a 36-hour no-fishing escapement period for all fishing gears. Increasing monthly reporting requirements for their catches. The list of waters where the harvest of river herring is prohibited are: the Delaware River and its tributaries, all streams in Bronx, Kings, Manhattan, Nassau, Richmond, Suffolk, and Queens counties, and Westchester County streams that are tributary to the East River or Long Island Sound. The Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), a cooperative interstate fisheries management organization, of which New York State is a member, recently confirmed that coast- wide river herring stocks are depleted. The blockage of rivers by dams, habitat degradation and overfishing led to the depletion of the river herring stocks along the Atlantic coast. In 2008, ASMFC adopted an amendment to the ASMFC Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Shad and River Herring requiring states to adopt measures that would reduce fishing mortality and allow the river herring stocks to rebuild. New York State promulgated these regulation changes to comply with the amendment and to protect the local river herring stocks. For additional information about DEC Marine Resources- Hudson River Fisheries programs, visit DEC\'s website or contact DEC\'s Bureau of Marine Resources at 845-256-3071 or by email at
2012-09-09 - Lunkerville TV Show to Feature Peconic Fishway

Lunkerville TV Show to Feature Peconic Fishway


The NBCSports television show \\\"Lunkerville\\\" will be filming at the Peconic River this week. The show, now in its seventh season on World Fishing Network, features \\\"real people with real fish stories,\\\" according to the show\\\'s producers. Lunkerville\\\'s host, indie film director and avid fisherman Michael de Avila will train his lens on the fish passage in Grangebel Park Thursday, Riverhead community development director Christine Kempner told town board members at thier Sept. 6 work session. The show reaches nearly 80 million households, Kempner said. \\\"It\\\'s exciting that Riverhead will be featured in it.\\\" The permanent fishway was installed in the winter of 2010 to aid the passage of alewives on their annual migration from northern regions of the Atlantic Ocean to spawning grounds in the Peconic River. Man-made obstructions, such as dams and spillways, impede the migration of the small river herring to safe waters where they spawn. Riverhead science teacher Bob Conklin and his middle school students began moving the fish over the dams and spillways to the 60-acre pond in the Peconic River every spring, beginning in 1995. In 2000, an aluminum fish ladder was installed to help the migration. It had to be put in place and removed each season. The permanent fishway was Conklin\\\'s long-held dream, but he didn\\\'t live to see it completed. He passed away in December 2009 at age 72. It was dedicated to his memory in April 2010. The fishway project, a joint effort of Riverhead Town, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, was part of a larger waterfront improvement project for downtown\\\'s Grangebel park. It received a national award from Coastal America last year. The Long Island Aquarium is planning to create a sculpture for the park, to be installed near the fishway. It depicts alewives running upstream. At Thursday\\\'s town board work session aquarium general manager Bryan DeLuca and exhibits manager Eli Fishman showed board members a model of the sculpture they\\\'d like to install. It will stand about 10 feet tall, Kempner said. They hope it will draw attention to the fishway. \\\"People don\\\'t even realize it\\\'s there,\\\" DeLuca said. Kempner said the town is also going to erect a sign at the site.

2012-09-07 - Peconic Institute, Sustainability Think-Tank, Name

Peconic Institute, Sustainability Think-Tank, Names Board


 The Peconic Institute — a spiritual successor to the sustainability studies program at Stony Brook Southampton — has elected its founding board of directors, bringing to fruition an idea broached in November at a forum where 50 organizations concerned with the future of the East End were represented. Stony Brook University moved the sustainability undergraduate program from the Shinnecock Hills satellite campus to its main campus after the 2009-10 academic year, despite protests of students and elected officials. The Peconic Institute was designed to carry on the study of environmentally sustainable practices in the Peconic region and foster policy development and education. "The Peconic Institute, functioning as an innovative laboratory that uses learning, research, and consensus building techniques, will help tackle regional education, healthcare, environment, transportation, and housing policy issues, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that all sectors remain independently and collectively sustainable," reads a statement from State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr.'s office. Thiele, I-Sag Harbor, and State Senator Kenneth LaValle, R-Port Jefferson, both advocates for Stony Brook Southampton, have worked to get the new institute off the ground. "It was clear from the beginning that there was widespread support for the creation of a regional think-tank where community leaders could work together to reach consensus on regional policies," Thiele is quoted as saying in a statement from his office. "I am grateful to the numerous individuals who have contributed their time and energy to help us build and refine this concept over the past 10 months. "Our elected Board of Directors is an impressive showing of dedicated, highly motivated, knowledgeable and impassioned people who truly represent the East End." LaValle added, "I believe housing the Institute at Stony Brook University will create a symbiotic synergy that will allow the Institute to tap into the university's diverse and extensive knowledge bank." Stony Brook Southampton's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences also recently announced major news toward sustainability on the East End: $3 million in grants to revitalize Shinnecock Bay and shellfish populations. Board members listed below. Elected officials are members by virtue of their office. Nay Htun, Co-Chair, Stony Brook University Kevin McDonald, Co-Chair, The Nature Conservancy Peri Grandone, Vice-Chair, Peconic Land Trust Marguerite Smith, Secretary, The Shinnecock Indian Nation Frank Dalene, Treasurer, Telemark, Inc. J. Philip Perna, Montauk School District The Rev. Mike Smith, Shinnecock Presbyterian Church Robert F. McAlevy, III Larry Penny Jack McGreevy, Southold Conservation Advisory Committee Steve Bate, Long Island Wine Council Lars Clemensen, Hampton Bays School District Joseph Gergela, III, Long Island Farm Bureau Vito Minei, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County Bonnie Cannon, Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center Bradley Peterson, Stony Brook University Isabela Scanlon, Organización Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island Robert Reeves, Stony Brook University Kevin O'Conner, Bridgehampton National Bank Gordian Raacke, Renewable Energy Long Island Mel Morris, Brookhaven National Lab Bonnie Brady, Long Island Commercial Fishing Association Robert Ross, Southampton Hospital Peggy Dickerson Josephine DeVincenzi John Botos, Acting Executive Director Anna Throne-Holst, Town of Southampton, Supervisor Sean Walters, Town of Riverhead, Supervisor Scott Russell, Town of Southold, Supervisor Jim Dougherty, Town of Shelter Island, Supervisor Bill Wilkinson, Town of East Hampton, Supervisor Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Senator Kenneth LaValle Congressman Tim Bishop

2012-08-24 - Shell Beach restoration: Estuary program offers pr

Shell Beach restoration: Estuary program offers proposal.

Black locust and Japanese black pine, invasive trees on Shell Beach, would be removed along with other invasive trees and shrubs like Russian olive, multiflora rose and bittersweet under a plan being developed for the Peconic Estuary Program (PEP) by Will Bowman of Land Use Environmental Services of Medford. Mr. Bowman and two representatives of the federally funded Peconic Estuary Program, Alison Branco and Julie Nace, discussed the planning process at Tuesday’s Town Board work session. Board members appeared to be concerned about the costs of the plan, which Mr. Bowman said is not yet complete. Councilman Peter Reich questioned how invasive species are defined and argued that all species were invaders at some point in history: “The plovers weren’t there 2,000 years ago,” he asserted. “I just don’t want us to become the invasive species, that’s all,” he added. The federal EPA is paying for the study, which the Town of Shelter Island is under no obligation to implement. The plan’s goal is to return Shell Beach to the dry, sunny and harsh windswept environment of sandy beach areas, which would “help foster native wildlife communities,” Mr. Bowman said. Tall trees close to a plover nesting sanctuary, like the black locusts on Shell Beach, can provide unnatural cover for predators, he told the board. “We’d be replacing a young forest” of locust and black pine “with patches of thicket with open grassy areas in between,” Mr. Bowman explained. The thicket would consist of bayberry, beach plum, prickly pear cactus and other non-invasive species typical of an undisturbed barrier beach environment. The study was undertaken because the PEP was charged under its own management plan with developing five ecological restoration plans, one for each of the five East End towns. When PEP officials asked the town for a priority site, Shell Beach was listed as number one, Mr. Bowman said. He was commissioned by the PEP, in association with the state and county, to prepare plans for all five towns. The PEP is a partnership of local, county, state and federal agencies set up after the EPA declared the Peconic Bay system an “Estuary of National Significance” in 1993. Its goal was to guide the development of a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) that would promote the environmental health of the system. A formal plan was developed and approved by the state and EPA in 2001. “There are an ambitious 340 management tasks included in the CCMP,” according to the PEP website; “priority topics include brown tide, nutrients, habitat and living resources, pathogens, toxic pollutants and critical lands protection.” Besides Shelter Island’s Shell Beach plan, Mr. Bowman was hired to develop alewife run restoration plans for creeks in Southold, Riverhead and Southampton towns and a water circulation improvement plan that focuses on the Napeague area in East Hampton Town. He said the Shell Beach project was “in many ways the most straightforward of all the projects.” He conducted fieldwork in the spring and made preliminary suggestions to planning goals then. After discussing those with the town and making necessary revisions, he will propose specific goals and present a plan for achieving them. The purpose of meeting with the Town Board now was “to get on the same page,” he said. When his plan is complete, “You really will have the opportunity” to move ahead with a minimum of red tape, Mr. Bowman told the board. The PEP, he added, can obtain the necessary permit from the DEC. “You should be in good shape to start implementing” the plan, he said. A major element of his proposal will be to cut down the stands of black locust that create shady wooded areas. The wood would be removed from the area and the stumps of the trees would be treated with herbicide to prevent sprouts from forming. “Our habitats are remarkably changed from 100 years ago,” Mr. Bowman said — and board members agreed. There was no road on Shell Beach 50 years ago and at one time it was a chain of low sandy islands that were connected as a result of dredge spoil deposits. “When faced with a situation that has changed since pre-settlement,” Mr. Bowman said, we look at the conditions there and choose the appropriate species to keep.” The goal is not to “revert it to what it was 100 years ago.” Councilman Paul Shepherd asked what the Town Board’s “flexibility” and “commitment” would be once the project is launched. Julie Nace of the PEP answered that the town was required by the Army Corps of Engineers permit it obtained to reinforce Shell Beach with a gabion rock wall to replant native species. That prompted Mr. Reich to say he understood that the DEC had “signed off” on that permit requirement so that “we’re closed out on that permit.” Town Attorney Laury Dowd noted there are other issues the town must address under PEP requirements, including a watershed study for Dering Harbor, which has been labeled as pathogen impaired by the DEC — not because tests show that it is impaired but because the proximity of the Heights sewer plant makes it a possibility and because of the concentration of boats in the harbor in the summer, board members agreed. The harbor “is guilty until proven innocent,” Mr. Reich said.
2012-08-20 - Governor signs legislation permitting towns to cre

Governor signs legislation permitting towns to create watershed improvement districts

Legislation Would Give Towns a New Tool to Protect Water Quality Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) this week reported that Governor Andrew Cuomo has given final approval to legislation authored by the Long Island Assemblyman that would permit towns in New York State to establish watershed protection improvement districts. The legislation adds watershed protection improvement districts to the State Town Law as the type of district that a town can create. Under current law Towns may create sewer, wastewater disposal, drainage, water, water quality treatment, park, public parking, lighting, snow removal, water supply, sidewalk, refuse and garbage, aquatic plant growth control, ambulance, harbor improvement, public dock, beach erosion control district, or a fallout shelter district. The legislation provides that after a watershed protection improvement district has been established, the town board may take such action as may be required to adopt plans and specifications and enter into a contract or contracts, or take such other actions as may be required, for the protection and restoration of groundwater, surface waters, and drinking water quality as it may deem to be necessary or desirable, including but not limited to stormwater treatment projects and wetland construction. Thiele stated, “New York State\'s surface, ground, and drinking water resources are continually threatened by pollution. Many rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, and estuarine waters do not meet their current designated uses. Approximately 34% of New York\'s estuarine waters are categorized as impaired; 44% percent of New York\'s lake and reservoir acres are categorized as being impaired or threatened. Contaminants from stormwater runoff and ineffective sanitary septic systems-such as excess nutrients, bacteria, toxic substances, and sediment can cause excessive algae growth, close bathing beaches and shellfishing areas, harm aquatic life, and contaminate drinking water. Best management practices designed to capture, treat, and infiltrate runoff will limit the volume of stormwater and amount of pollutants reaching our waterbodies. Replacing out-dated sanitary septic systems, especially in nutrient sensitive areas and areas with high groundwater tables, will minimize nutrient loadings to groundwater and groundwater-fed surface waters. Towns and private homeowners do not have the funds, individually, to undertake these important measures. Watershed protection improvement districts will create a dedicated, sustainable local funding source, with equitable shared costs. Through watershed protection improvement districts, towns are able to raise funds to install and maintain the following efforts: storm water treatment, drainage and infiltration projects, septic system upgrades, alternative septic systems, conservation landscaping, storm water collection devices, and natural shorelines and shoreline buffers.”


Governor Cuomo signed a bill today to protect New Yorks seagrass beds, an essential part of our underwater environment, and its surrounding wildlife. Seagrass beds in New York State are a vital habitat for many species of fish, and by endangering the seagrass, we risk losing some of our vibrant marine life, Governor Cuomo said. This bill will stop many of the practices that have been causing our seagrass to die. We can no longer turn a blind eye to procedures that threaten our environment, and I thank Senator Johnson and Assemblyman Sweeney for their hard work to protect this fragile ecosystem. New Yorks seagrass beds used to be much larger. It is estimated that in 1930, there were 200,000 acres. Unfortunately, only 21,803 acres remain, and they provide a home to a variety of important fish and shellfish. In order to preserve and expand New Yorks seagrass, this bill will restrict activities that may threaten seagrass areas, such as mechanically powered fishing gear, and grant the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) the authority to develop and adopt a seagrass management plan to further protect at risk areas. This law takes effect in 150 days. DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said, "Seagrass beds stabilize shorelines, reduce turbulence, and provide spawning and nursery habitat for fish and invertebrate species. With this law, DEC will be able to better protect these sensitive seagrass areas and the marine life that depend upon it." Senator Owen H. Johnson, co-sponsor of the bill, said, Governor Cuomo signing this legislation into law is great news for Long Island! Seagrasses are vital to the health of our bays, providing a habitat for many valuable species of fish and shellfish, as well as stabilizing the bay bottom sediments. New Yorks seagrass beds have shrunk from an estimated high of over 200,000 acres in 1930 to fewer than 22,000 acres today. The Seagrass Protection Act will go a long way toward preserving and protecting this valuable marine resource and I thank the Governor for signing the bill into law. Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, co-sponsor of the bill, said, This new law is great news for Long Island. Seagrasses are vital to the health of our bays, and our local economy, by providing a nursery for many valuable species of fish and shellfish. There were approximately 200,000 acres of seagrass in 1930; today only 21,000 acres remain. Protecting seagrass benefits the economy by providing an important habitat for New Yorks major commercial and recreational fisheries. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing this important law.
2012-07-25 - Newsday: East End land preservation fund reported

Newsday: East End land preservation fund reported down 6%

An East End land conservation fund saw its collections drop by 6 percent in the first half of the year, despite a surge of revenues in East Hampton, according to the state legislator who monitors the fund. The Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund added $29.6 million to its coffers from January through June, compared to $31.5 million during the same period last year, Assemb. Fred W. Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) said. Given the stratospheric prices in some East End towns, a few sales can skew the numbers, Thiele said. “You have not that many transactions and you have high prices on the homes that get sold, so that may be the difference between a handful of sales,” he said. “The 6 percent is just not a big amount, and next month there could be a decent month and it will wipe that out.” East Hampton’s share of the fund rose by nearly 27 percent, to $9 million, in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2011. Shelter Island’s revenues dropped by nearly 24 percent, to about $380,000. Collections also fell in Riverhead, Southampton and Southold. The rise in East Hampton’s revenues may be a sign that the town is starting to recover from the fiscal troubles that plagued it for several years, Thiele said. A town supervisor resigned in 2009 amid ballooning deficits and probes into alleged misuse of town funds. “That might have had a chilling effect on the real estate market, and now it’s kind of bounced back,” Thiele said. The fund generates revenues from a 2 percent tax on real estate transactions; the first $250,000 is excluded. Throughout the East End, there were 3,051 sales subject to the tax in the first six months of the year, a 6 percent increase over last year. The fund was started in 1999, after a referendum vote. It has preserved more than 6,000 acres of open space, farmland and historic sites.
2012-07-24 - Newsday: State law to ban harmful nonnative plants

Newsday: State law to ban harmful nonnative plants, animals

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law yesterday a bill aimed at slowing the spread of invasive plant and animal species across New York State. The legislation -- which takes effect in January -- makes the sale, possession or transportation of nonnative species punishable by fines from the Department of Environmental Conservation. Along with disrupting native species and their ecosystems, invasive plants and animals can cost millions to remove.The bill, authored by Assemb. Bob Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), comes as the Islandwide fight against invasive species has intensified. In June, the DEC pumped $25,000 into battling perennial pepperweed at West Meadow Peninsula. Less than a month later, the agency joined civic groups in removing water primrose from the Peconic Estuary. Brookhaven and Long Beach City, meanwhile, banned bamboo last week. The Island has also battled invasive critters, including feral hogs and bronze carp. "It comes not a moment too soon," Sweeney said. "Some of these species are extremely difficult to deal with, and if you don't catch them early they become entrenched." Under the law, the DEC and Department of Agriculture and Markets will identify harmful species for disposal. The agencies are required to publish a list by September 2013, also outlining "regulated" species that are legal to own and transport but may not be released into the wild. Individuals who possess or transport invasive species will -- after a written warning -- face a $250 fine. Vendors can face fines up to $2,000. Richard Amper, executive director of the Pine Barrens Society, an environmental advocacy group based in Riverhead, said even if the added regulations don't slow the spread of invasive species, public awareness created by the bill will. Infestations of cabomba, a dense underwater plant, in both lakes of the Carmans River began "innocently" after an individual emptied their fish tank into the waters, he said. "People aren't actively destroying our ecosystems," Amper said. "It's mostly carelessness and ignorance."
2012-07-14 - Riverhead Local: Battle Against Ludwigia in the Pe

Riverhead Local: Battle Against Ludwigia in the Peconic River

A group of about 30 volunteers in kayaks and canoes went on a mission Thursday morning to clear the Peconic River banks of the invasive aquatic perennial Ludwigia, the creeping water primrose. Ludwigia was first observed on the Peconic River in 2003, according to the N.Y. State department of environmental conservation. The plant’s ability to quickly reproduce, coupled with the damaging effects it has on native species, makes removing it from the Peconic Estuary System. a high prioroty, according to the agency. The dense mats of water primrose vegetation also make boating and fishing nearly impossible. The volunteers on Thursday pulled about 40 cubic yards out of the river, said Julie Nace, coordinator of the Peconic Estuary Program for the state DEC\'s bureau of marine resources, which sponsors the annual clean-up. Many of the volunteers were teens from the organization \"Students Taking Action for Tomorrow\'s Environment,\" which is run by the nonprofit organization Avalon Park and Preserve in Stony Brook. \"These teens do phenomenal things every day,\" said Rebecca Kassay, who coordinates the STATE program.
2012-07-13 - Riverhead Patch: Community Cleans Up Peconic

Riverhead Patch: Community Cleans Up Peconic

When it comes to protecting the Peconic, Riverhead residents aren\'t afraid to get their hands dirty and their feet wet. On Thursday, approximately 30 volunteers gathered in boats, kayaks and canoes to help remove ludwigia peploides, commonly known as water primose, by hand pulling it from the river. Since 2006, over 450 volunteers have teamed up in the effort to clean up the Peconic, said Julie Nace, Peconic Estuary Program Coordinator for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation\'s Bureau of Marine Resources. Wearing old clothes and rubber gloves, volunteers helped pull out the water primrose by hand. The water primrose, Nace said, is a non-native plant species considered invasive because it \"out-competes native plants and takes over their habitat,\" she said. \"So, in addition to losing native plants, it also decreases water quality for native fish and other species,\" Nace added. \"And, it grows in very large mats making any sort of boating, kayaking, canoeing, or swimming, virtually impossible. It is thought that this plant probably was released by people using it for aquariums or ponds.\" The volunteer effort was organized by the Peconic Estuary Program, a partnership between the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Suffolk County and NYSDEC. Community groups such as members of the Peconic Lake Estates Civic Association, the Freshwater Anglers of Long Island, and Students Take Action for Tomorrow\'s Environment, also pitched it to help maintain water and habitat quality in the Peconic. Volunteers must be careful not to leave bits behind; those can grow into new plants downstream, Nace said. All plants were disposed of by the NYDEC into compost.

2012-07-12 - Newsday: Ridding Peconic waters of invasive weeds

Newsday: Ridding Peconic waters of invasive weeds

About 30 volunteers and Department of Environmental Conservation workers -- in kayaks, canoes and fishing boats -- combed the Peconic Lake and River Thursday for water primrose, an invasive aquatic weed threatening the watershed\'s ecosystem. \"This is something that\'s not just going to go away after a week,\" said Ernie Fugina, president of the Peconic Lake Estates Civic Organization. \"Once it covers the lake, it will destroy everything beneath it.\" Fishermen spotted the weed -- formally Ludwigia peploides -- in 2003, said Fugina, 70, of Calverton. Since 2006, Long Island conservation groups have worked with the DEC to fight the plant\'s advance. The groups Freshwater Anglers of Long Island and Students Take Action for Tomorrow\'s Environment also donated boats and time Thursday, respectively. Such turnouts, Fugina said, have helped reduce water primrose to a fraction of what it was five years ago. The perennial weed grows in thick mats dotted by yellow flowers. Its roots make it difficult for animals to move, Fugina said, and above-water leaves block the sun while adding little oxygen to the water. Most alarming, Fugina said, is the plant\'s rate of reproduction. Water primrose can double its size in only 15 days to 20 days, according to the Peconic Estuary Program. Charles Guthrie, regional fisheries manager for the DEC, said the plant\'s growth rate accelerates with heat. \"We want to get ahead of it,\" he added. It\'s still unclear how water primrose entered Long Island\'s waters, Guthrie said. Though Thursday was the only planned harvest of the year, the DEC organized as many as four harvests annually until 2009. Since then, the amount of weeds removed yearly has decreased from 60 cubic yards to less than 10 cubic yards, Guthrie said. Still, removal is a tall task since each weed must be pulled in entirety by hand, said Alison Branco, director of the Peconic Estuary Program. \"You can\'t use mechanical methods,\" said Branco, of Bay Shore. \"When you break it apart . . . it spreads.\" Added Fugina, \"I don\'t want to see this lake destroyed.\"
2012-06-02 - Peconic Estuary Community Day

Peconic Estuary Community Day

Peconic Estuary Community Day Date/Time Saturday, June 2 10:00 am - 3:00 pm Location Long Island Science Center in Riverhead.  Twenty years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated the Peconic Estuary as an Estuary of National Significance. Please join us to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this important designation as well as the formation of the Peconic Estuary Program. Learn about our work and accomplishments over the past 20 years of protecting and restoring our beautiful and unique local waterway. The event will include educational activities for both adults and children, along with opportunities to speak with Peconic Estuary Program staff, volunteers, and contractors. Free and open to the public!
2012-05-31 - Peconic Estuary Anniversary Party

Peconic Estuary Anniversary Party

The 20th anniversary of the Peconic Estuary’s being named an estuary of national significance by the federal Environmental Protection Agency will be celebrated on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Long Island Science Center, 11 West Main Street in Riverhead. The estuary also has been called “One of the Last Great Places in the Western Hemisphere” by the Nature Conservancy. Live music, chances at ll a.m. and at noon to paddle the Peconic with Mike Bottini, a local naturalist and writer, and hourly educational programs on river ecology with the center’s staff will take place from 11 a.m. through 2 p.m. Tours of the Grangibel Park fish ladder, with Byron Young, who is on the State Department of Environmental Conservation staff, will take place at 1 and 2 p.m. Estuaries are the most productive ecosystems on earth, containing more life per square inch than a lush rainforest. The Peconic Estuary starts at the headwaters of the Peconic River near Brookhaven National Laboratory and stretches through the bays and inlets to Montauk Point. Some 111 rare species have been identified on its 125,000 land and 158,000 surface water acres. The Peconic Estuary Program was created by activists to protect and restore the environmental quality of the extraordinary resource. Opportunities to speak with the staff, volunteers, and others involved in the program will be available during Saturday’s celebration, and the first 150 attendees will be offered a free water bottle, with the Suffolk County Water Authority on hand to fill them.
2012-05-25 - Three Mile Harbor Pump Out Vessel Temporarily Out

Three Mile Harbor Pump Out Vessel Temporarily Out of Commission

The Three Mile Harbor Pumpout vessel will be out of commission this weekend due to a leaking fuel tank.  The Town operated pumpout station at the commercial dock in Three Mile Harbor is operational and should be used until the vessel is back in working order (approximately two weeks).
2012-05-23 - East Hampton home sales bolster green fund

East Hampton home sales bolster green fund

In a sign of resurgence in high-end home sales, an East End land preservation fund collected almost 22 percent more in real estate taxes last month than it did during the same period in 2011. The surge stems from strong home sales in East Hampton. The Peconic Bay Regional Community Preservation Fund took in $6.1 million last month, compared with $5 million in April 2011, said Assemb. Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), who monitors the fund. The revenue are 50 percent higher than in April 2010, Thiele said. In a news release Thiele called the increase "promising for both the East End real estate market and our ongoing, ambitious land preservation efforts." The fund is used by towns to preserve land within their borders; its revenue is commonly seen as a rough barometer of the East End's housing market. The Town of East Hampton's fund revenue soared nearly 129 percent in April compared with the same period last year, from almost $986,000 to nearly $2.3 million, according to Thiele. Revenue fell in April in the other four towns that participate in the fund compared with the same period in 2011. The Town of Southampton's fund revenue dropped almost 2 percent, to less than $3.5 million. Riverhead collected less than $84,000, a decline of 40 percent. Shelter Island generated less than $78,000, a 24 percent fall. Southold's revenue of less than $240,000 in April marked a 13 percent decline. A 2 percent tax on real estate sales generates money for the fund, which was created by a referendum vote in 1999. The first $250,000 of a sale is exempt. The fund helps towns protect wetlands, woodlands, farms and historical sites from development, said Mary Wilson, community preservation manager for the Town of Southampton. "It's kept this part of Long Island beautiful and protected the habitats and natural resources," she said.
2012-05-01 - Lawn Fertilizer Phosphorus Restrictions Now in Eff

Lawn Fertilizer Phosphorus Restrictions Now in Effect

From the May 2012 issue

Lawn Fertilizer Phosphorus Restrictions Now in Effect

As the lawn-care season gets into full swing, DEC is urging New Yorkers to be mindful of a new state law limiting the percentage of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers and restricting when and where they can be used. The fertilizer provisions of the NYS Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law have been in effect since January 1. Highlights of the New Law Too much phosphorus in the water can lead to algal blooms and other problems that lower water quality.The new restrictions will reduce the quantity of phosphorus entering the state\'s waters. Excessive amounts of phosphorus degrade water quality in ponds, rivers, lakes and streams. Under the provisions of the new law: The use of fertilizer containing phosphorus on lawns or non-agricultural turf is restricted to those containing less than 0.67 percent phosphate by weight. Retailers must display fertilizer containing phosphorus separately from phosphorus-free fertilizer and post signs notifying customers of the terms of the new law. Application of any fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium on lawns or non-agricultural turf is prohibited between December 1 and April 1. Application of any fertilizer on lawns or non-agricultural turf within 20 feet of a water body or on paved surfaces is restricted. Phosphorus is carried from lawns into ponds, rivers, lakes and streams by stormwater runoff. Phosphorus dissolved in water has been linked to reductions in oxygen necessary for fish to breathe, algae that turn waterbodies green, and algae and algae by-products that degrade drinking water. Many Waterbodies Degraded by Phosphorus More than 70 waterbodies used for drinking water, fisheries or recreation in New York are impaired or negatively affected due to phosphorus, including: portions of Lake Ontario, Lake Champlain, Onondaga Lake, New York City drinking water reservoirs, the Chesapeake Bay watershed and many other smaller ponds and lakes. Phosphorus-impaired waters can negatively affect recreation and tourism, an important component of local economies. In addition, reducing the amount of phosphorus in stormwater is preferable to removing it after it has entered. Protecting drinking water from the effects of phosphorus can be costly. Municipalities located within watersheds of impaired waters must meet regulatory limits on the total amount of phosphorus entering the watershed from all sources, especially stormwater runoff. Improving a storm-sewer system (retrofitting) to remove phosphorus from stormwater can cost millions of dollars. Find the full text of the new law, frequently asked questions, and a downloadable sign for retail display at the Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law page on DEC\'s website.

2012-04-27 - New Law Takes on ‘Trophy Lawns’

New Law Takes on ‘Trophy Lawns’

New Law Takes on ‘Trophy Lawns’ State restricts use of phosphorus in fertilizers and ‘weed and feed’ products By Carrie Ann Salvi | April 26, 2012 - 1:55pm Homeowners have been told to limit fertilizer use, which has contributed to poor water quality, shellfish declines, and contamination of swimming areas. Carrie Ann Salvi A state law that limits the percentage of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers and restricts the time of year when and locations where fertilizers can be used went into effect on Jan. 1. The New York State Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law was enacted to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering and degrading the water and to lower the cost to local governments of removing excess quantities. The law applies to fertilizer application and would restrict the use of “weed and feed” products that contain phosphorus in amounts over 0.67 percent, unless a soil test showed that a lawn needed phosphorus or in cases where a new lawn is being established. “I would like to see it go further,” Kevin McAllister, the Peconic Baykeeper, said. The law, according to a release from Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., aims to improve recreational and other uses of the state’s waters. Mr. McAllister said the county put restrictions into effect a few years ago, and while the state is now involved, “We’ve got to do better. . . . We have got to move beyond the trend of the ‘trophy lawn.’ ” The desire for emerald green, dandelion-free lawns is leading homeowners to pay for excessive applications of fertilizer, he said. Those “hooked on turf,” the baykeeper said, need to learn that a healthy green lawn is possible using organic and sustainable practices that will not threaten water quality. The State Department of Environmental Conservation states that most soils in New York already contain sufficient phosphorus to support turf grass growth without additional phosphorus from fertilizers, which can account for up to 50 percent of the phosphorus in stormwater runoff. Phosphorus is expensive for municipalities to remove from wastewater at treatment plants — from $1 to $20 per pound. More than 100 sub-watersheds in the state contain water impaired by phosphorus, according to the D.E.C.’s Web site. The state’s recent closure of Shinnecock Bay was nitrogen-related, Mr. McAllister said. “We have to curtail the loading of fertilizer,” he said, adding that the way we manage tens of thousands of lawns will make a difference. Pollutants enter bays and harbors in a number of ways, but primarily through groundwater and stormwater runoff, according to the Nature Conservancy. Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that are used on lawns travel through the soil to the groundwater that flows into our bays and harbors. Phosphorus affects fresh water, and nitrogen affects marine waters. Mr. McAllister said many of our water bodies have been on the state’s impaired-waters list, which is reassessed every two years, since 2006. In 2010, he said, the entirety of the county’s south shore, including fresh water bodies in East Hampton and Southampton Towns, were placed on the list for either recurring algae blooms or low oxygen levels. The baykeeper explained that nitrogen from fertilizers triggers the microscopic plants to burst in growth for several weeks. They then decompose and consume dissolved oxygen from the water, resulting in fish and crab kills. In addition to devastating shellfish populations, overgrowth of algae causes brown tides and interferes with swimming, boating, and fishing, too, the Nature Conservancy said. Even chemicals used on properties far inland can travel long distances underground, ultimately finding their way into bays and wetlands and onto beaches. In the release, Mr. Thiele reminded East End residents to be mindful of the new state law, which prohibits the application of fertilizers that contain nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium between Dec. 1 and April 1. If a product does not contain any of the three primary macronutrients, it could be applied during the winter months without violating the law. “Banning fertilizer in the winter is not going to do it,” Mr. McAllister said. “To really see the reductions, we need to impose more restrictions during the entire year.” The spring and summer are when most homeowners are using lawn products, often as a result of “brilliant marketing” disguised as education by companies such as Scotts, he said. Although the law also states that “no fertilizers may be applied within 20 feet of surface water,” an exception is made where there is a 10-foot-wide vegetative buffer of planted or naturally occurring vegetation — trees, shrubs, legumes, or grasses — or if the fertilizer is applied using a deflector shield or drop spreader, in which cases applications may be done within three feet of a body of water. The law does not affect agricultural fertilizer, flower or vegetable gardens, pasture land, land where hay is harvested, the trees, shrubs, and turf grown on turf farms, or any form of agricultural production. Mr. McAllister is concerned that the law does not apply to agricultural lands, which he said are a significant contributor of nitrogen flushing into groundwater. He said the county’s monitoring of nitrate levels in groundwater downstream from farms is “through the roof.” The law requires retailers to display phosphorus fertilizer separately from phosphorus-free fertilizer and to post signs notifying customers of the terms of the law. It has no specific disposal requirements for lawn fertilizer containing phosphorus. The law affects organic phosphorus fertilizer, as well, but not compost or liquid compost as long as they do not contain chemically, mechanically, or otherwise manipulated manure or plant matter. The state banned the sale of phosphorus-containing dishwasher detergents for household use in 2010. The new law prohibits the sale of such detergents for commercial use as of July 1, 2013. Mr. McAllister said education of property owners about sustainable practices is a priority — the application, for example, of compost that is organic and slowly releases nutrients that are absorbed for growth instead of flushed. He said useful information such as “Four Steps to a Pesticide-Free Lawn” is available online at The Web site has suggestions such as mowing with the blade set higher, watering infrequently and deeply, seeding with a tall fescue blend, and using organic solutions on weeds and pests. There is also a list of companies that provide landscaping services using sustainable practices. The Nature Conservancy suggests that homeowners replace high-maintenance sod lawns with native grasses and shrubs that require less fertilization and irrigation. Mr. McAllister also pointed out that the natural resources of the water bodies on the East End drive the economy here. Regarding polluted, fishless waters that can’t be swum in, he asked, “What will this do to property values?” “We’ve got to change our evil ways,” the baykeeper said. “This isn’t alarmist, it’s reality.”
2012-04-24 - Newsday: Famed Oyster Bar helps support LI Shellfi

Newsday: Famed Oyster Bar helps support LI Shellfish Preserve

The Shellfish Preserve in Southhold, a sustainable aquaculture facility funded by National Grid a few years ago, has received a $2,447 check, more than half of it from a popular Manhattan eatery -- the Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant. The Noank Aquaculture Cooperative, composed of independent baymen who operate small oyster companies, collected the proceeds that included $1,527 from the Oyster Bar. The oysters harvested at the preserve, called Peconic Pearls, debuted last year at the Oyster Bar. A portion of the proceeds from their sale goes to preservation of the Peconic Estuary, through donations to the Peconic Land Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization. The National Grid Foundation in 2005 gave a $150,000 grant to fund the preserve. The facility also received $150,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Oyster Bar owner Sandy Ingber of Plainview said his restaurant has sold about 500 of the Peconic Pearl oysters a week for the last six months, about average for oyster sales. "It's a wonderful oyster," Ingber said Tuesday. He said he will continue to sell Peconic Pearls. "The only good oyster is an oyster that sells," he said.
2012-04-23 - ‘Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing’ Gets Cer

‘Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing’ Gets Certified

For winemakers like Richard Olsen-Harbich, sustainable practices in local grape production are an essential part of creating quality Long Island vintages and in keeping the area eco-friendly. Which is why he and other local vintners have partnered to create Long Island Sustainable Wine Growing, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that “provides education and certification for sustainable farming practices in growing premium wine grapes on the East End,” according to a recent press release. “We are eager to strengthen the ecological leadership and social responsibility of the Long Island wine region,” said Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars. “This effort has been an important process for Long Island wineries to demonstrate they are serious about making world-class wines that are also ecologically sensitive. New Yorkers should take pride knowing that the most sustainable and lowest carbon footprint wines are made right here in their own backyard, on the East End of Long Island.” Other goals of the group are to begin multi-year certification process for Long Island farm wineries using international standards of sustainable practices in quality wine-grape production — standards that have been refined for Long Island in particular. All Long Island vineyard owners have been invited to join the group, according to the statement. Founding partners are from Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue, Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck, Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead, and Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton. These Long Island growers are joining the likes of those participating in similar programs in Oregon and California. “We farm land that is part of an important watershed and the Long Island sustainable standards will guide local viticulturists in returning to more natural methods of farming," said Barbara Shinn, co-owner and viticulturist of Shinn Estate Vineyards. "Addressing our vineyards as living systems, setting aside biological compensation areas on the farm, and farming transparently and mindfully are key points to our standards." Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing has worked with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County to write and codify specific sustainable grape growing guidelines for Long Island’s two certified American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) — the North Fork and The Hamptons. The organization has pending 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status and the first certified sustainable Long Island wines will be available for sale in early 2013. For more information, go to,, and
2012-04-10 - ALERT: Shellfish and Gastropod Closures

ALERT: Shellfish and Gastropod Closures

For Release: Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DEC Temporarily Closes Areas in Town of Southampton, Suffolk County for the Harvest of Shellfish and Carnivorous Gastropods

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods in particular areas in the Town of Southampton and the Town of Riverhead have been temporarily closed, effective immediately, due to the detection of a marine biotoxin.

The closure impacts approximately 3,900 acres in the Town of Southampton, covering all the underwater lands in Shinnecock Bay that lie west of the southbound lanes of the Ponquogue Bridge and west of the western side of the Post Lane Bridge in Quogue. All harvesting of shellfish and carnivorous gastropods in these lands is prohibited until further notice in an effort to protect public health. Approximately 30 acres in the Town of Riverhead is also included, covering all the underwater lands in Meetinghouse Creek. All harvesting of carnivorous gastropods in this area is prohibited until further notice; shellfish harvesting in Meetinghouse Creek is currently prohibited year round. A map showing the affected areas will be available on DEC's website.

This action was taken after DEC determined that shellfish samples collected from a monitoring site at Weesuck and Penniman Creek in Southampton and Meetinghouse Creek in Riverhead tested positive for saxitoxin, a marine biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). The samples were tested as part of DEC's marine biotoxin monitoring program. Carnivorous gastropods, which feed on shellfish, may also accumulate biotoxins at levels that are hazardous to human health.

On April 3, 2012, DEC also closed approximately 92 acres for the harvest of shellfish in Mattituck Creek and Mattituck Inlet, including all sides of the rock jetties that protect the inlet. These areas remain closed for shellfishing.

DEC will continue to monitor for the presence of biotoxins in shellfish at 18 other locations around Long Island and implement closures as necessary to protect public health.

DEC will re-open areas as soon as possible based on the results of laboratory analyses that will be conducted over the next few weeks. A recorded message advising harvesters of the status of temporarily closed shellfish areas may be heard by calling (631) 444-0480. The message will be updated during the course of the temporary closure.For Release: IMMEDIATE Contact: Lori Severino

2012-03-18 - Riverhead Town charting waters for stormwater plan

Riverhead Town charting waters for stormwater plan

Riverhead Town officials are in the process of finalizing a plan of action to comply with new federal and state mandates aimed at improving water quality in the bays and Sound.

Under orders from both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Conservation, the town not only must act to improve quality in waters that fail to meet federal clean water standards but must also record and report each plan developed and each step taken.

The DEC has designated the Town of Riverhead as a municipal separate storm sewer system operator, commonly known as MS4. The MS4 designation means the town must develop, implement and enforce a stormwater management program requiring developers to submit more stringent pollution prevention plans to ensure building projects don’t contaminate wetlands.

Water that runs off impervious surfaces, such as rooftops, roads and parking lots, picks up pollutants before descending into nearby waterways. Through stormwater mitigation, pollutants are typically redirected and filtered through permeable surfaces.

Drew Dillingham, an assistant engineer for Riverhead Town who was hired specifically to develop the town’s MS4 plan, said the federal mandates will be added to the town’s existing Watershed Improvement Strategy.

The biggest challenge the town faces to being in compliance is funding, Mr. Dillingham said. The second biggest hurdle? Manpower.

“There aren’t a whole lot of people that you could hire that could step in and run the MS4 program,” he said. “There are many proposed projects, but we don’t have any money … All we did last year was we met paperwork deadlines.”

Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter described the new mandates as a “paper chase.”

“The DEC couldn’t handle it, now the towns are mandated to handle it,” Mr. Walter said. “Having the towns act as a conduit to the DEC makes zero sense.”

Mr. Walter said he believes the MS4 program was initially designed to protect surface waters but has turned into a groundwater protection plan.

“The MS4 program was designed to stop surface water from seeping into streams and creeks,” he said. “It was to protect surface water, which we don’t have a lot of. Groundwater is the DEC’s jurisdiction. This is another one of those unfunded mandates [and] it has no business being dealt with by the town.”

Although the town has dealt with developing a MS4 program, it has also mapped out several stormwater mitigation projects throughout the area.

Mr. Dillingham said two projects at the top of the town’s wish list are construction of a new wetland off Church Lane and a stormwater mitigation plan at Meeting House Creek Park.

A 230-by-110-foot portion of the southern end of Church Lane is slated for a $122,000 project to reconstruct a degraded wetland. Oily runoff and dumping has taken place there for the past few decades.

The Meeting House Creek Park is slated for a bioretention project. This involves layering gravel and soil in order to create a permeable surface and filter pollutants. A catch basin is also planned to be installed to help with the filtering process.

Several other stormwater mitigation projects are currently in the town’s pipeline.

Bioretention and grass pavers are slated for the end of Cedar Street. With a grass paver method, patterned, hollowed-out bricks act as reinforcement for a soil bed where grass is grown. This allows roots and plants to grow while the soil is kept from becoming too compacted and less porous.

An organic filter, which uses leaf compost instead of engineered soil, as well as a small recharge basin are planned for the intersection of Church Lane and Crystal Drive.

A combination of bioretention, grass pavers and rain gardens are planned for the end of Harbor Road. A rain garden is another method used to filter stormwater. Water is redirected through a gutter’s downspout and onto a gravel path leading to a rain garden, which retains water in a deep depression dug out from underneath the vegetation. Water collected in the depression will also help keep lawns moist so less water will be needed to keep them green.

“I wanted to try different measures in different areas,” Mr. Dillingham said. “We’ll be able to use these different methods for educational purposes.”

He added that high school students, as well as the general public, will be given an opportunity to learn about the process of creating these stormwater mitigation measures as construction gets under way.

While the town looks for ways to fund these projects, it also plans to develop a plan to reduce nitrogen-loading in the Great Peconic Bay watershed.

2012-02-28 - Fish Ladder Aids Alewives Run

Fish Ladder Aids Alewives Run

For the sake of a prey fish species important to the marine food chain, the Southampton Town Trustees installed a fish ladder Thursday at a creek in North Sea that they hope will result in more fish surviving migration.

The fish ladder came just in time, as the first waves the annual migration were spotted Saturday by Trustee Fred Havemeyer. A fish ladder is a series of pools of water that fish can use to rest and to jump from one to another to swim upstream. In this instance, the fish are alewives, a type of herring, and their destination is Big Fresh Pond, where they go to spawn before returning to the ocean. The fish ladder is located on the east side of North Sea Road, just south of the Millstone Brook Road intersection, and Eric Shultz, the president of the Trustees, says he wants to make the \"alewives run\" a tourist attraction and put up a sign letting passersby know they can pull over and watch as hundreds or thousands of fish a day swim against the current.

The stream starts at the head of North Sea Harbor, and Town Trustees marine maintenance workers clear the entire length of the stream of branches and debris each year to ensure the alewives can complete their migration.

Trustee Ed Warner said the new addition of the fish ladder will add depth to the stream as fish try to swim under North Sea Road, compensating for a lack of rainfall and water coming from Big Fresh Pond.

Havemeyer said that Southampton\'s early settlers relied on the annual alewives run. \"Historically, they are important because the alewife run was used by the early settlers not only as a food source but also as a fertilizer,\" he said Thursday. He added that alewives remain important today because of their role in the food chain, both at sea and for the raccoons, river otters and ospreys that prey on them during migration.

Havemeyer noted that former East Hampton Town Natural Resources Director Larry Penny had tried to reintroduce alewives to East Hampton ponds, but population haven\'t taken hold yet.

2012-02-03 - Avoiding Stormwater Runoff Pollutants

Avoiding Stormwater Runoff Pollutants

Technically speaking, storm water runoff is defined as any precipitation pouring into a body of water. It’s not necessarily harmful on its own.

But add toxins, excess nutrients, sediments and bacteria into the mix, and runoff is suddenly a recipe for pollution.

With more and more impervious surfaces—such as parking lots and buildings—popping up in the Hamptons, some precipitation can’t filtrate back into the ground and, instead, runs off, picking up pollutants along the way before washing down a storm drain and winding up in the local bays and oceans, according to Group for the East End Environmental Advocate Jennifer Skilbred.

To spread awareness, Springs School recently teamed up with Project Most for a stormwater drain stenciling project, Ms. Skilbred said. The stencils, which were spray-painted next to storm drains, read, “No dumping. Drains to bay.”

“Storm water runoff is something we’re hearing a lot about these days, but not everyone might be up to speed on it,” Ms. Skilbred said during an interview at the organization’s Bridgehampton office earlier this month. “And part of the reason you’re hearing a lot about it is that it’s a national issue for surface water quality.”

And it’s an issue that is being taken seriously not only in the Hamptons, but across the country. In 2003, New York State adopted Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, or MS4, regulations that have required municipalities to strengthen efforts in reducing the amount of polluted storm water that reaches tidal and freshwater bodies—an expenditure that comes with a hefty price tag.

“But in order for that to really succeed, private homeowners and property owners need to take some steps, as well, to complement that work,” Ms. Skilbred said. “Every little bit makes a difference, even if you just pick a little part of this to attempt at home. You’re making a difference.”

Step one is eliminating fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide use on lawns and gardens—or even just minimizing it. The chemicals found in them are toxic to ocean and bay ecosystems, she said.

“Herbicides that are made to kill plants can also damage eel grass, which are underwater plants that provide habitat for shellfish like scallops,” she said. “So there’s all these negative impacts that people might not be thinking about when you’re just trying to make your lawn greener.”

If there’s no negotiating on fertilizer use, consider amount and timing before applying, Ms. Skilbred suggested.

“Nitrogen issues come from fertilizer,” she said. “When there’s excessive fertilizer put on the lawn and the plants don’t take it all up, or you put it on right before it rains, that can run off into the bay. Excessive nutrients in the bay is what can trigger harmful algal blooms, like red tide. The impact of that can lead to fish kills and low and dissolved oxygen. Fish won’t have enough oxygen in the water.”

The key to reducing fertilizer is planting native vegetation that is accustomed to growing in Long Island soil and weathering the Long Island climate, Ms. Skilbred continued. Also, she said, set the lawn mower blade higher—at least 3 inches high—as taller grass has deeper roots, allowing for a healthier plant.

Step two is to avoid using leaf blowers. They often push soil and sand, along with the leaves, off the property, into the street and down the storm drains. The excess sediment can choke out the shellfish living in the bays.

“It buries them, essentially,” she said. “They can’t survive because they’re filter feeders and if they filter in too much of that, they’re not going to survive.”

Step three is to limit lawn size. Larger swaths of grass attract geese, and with more geese comes more animal waste—which contains fecal coliform, a bacteria that, if picked up by storm water runoff, can cause shellfish closure, Ms. Skilbred said.

“You’re attracting more waterfowl into a concentrated area, so then there’s more of that waste that becomes concentrated, so it can actually complicate the problem,” she explained, adding, “Also, manage pet waste. It’s good to pick it up because no one wants to step in it, but if you’re not picking it up, it’s eventually going to make its way into the bay, and there’s often pathogens in there that can cause beach closures and shellfish contamination.”

Other than reducing pollutant levels, property owners should strive to contain as much precipitation on their land as possible.

During or after a rainstorm, walk around the yard and see where the water is pooling. That may be a great area to plant a rain garden, Ms. Skilbred said. The idea is to fill it with plants that can handle periods of completely saturated soil and wet weather. They’ll soak up the water and reduce runoff.

In general, gardens are also a place to redirect rain gutters, Ms. Skilbred said.

“Many times, the rain gutters will just hit the driveway,” she said. “Engineering-wise, it makes sense. People are like, ‘Okay, get the rain off the roof, onto the road, away from my house.’ Unfortunately, then it becomes runoff and picks up these pollutants. So redirect it to a plant bed where the plants will use it. You can buy relatively cheap gutter extensions and aim them wherever you want.”

Extensions can run anywhere from $10 to $25. Rain barrels, which can cost up to $200, are a more expensive option. The system collects storm water runoff from the roof gutter and saves it for later use, Ms. Skilbred explained. Many are hooked up to a gardening hose, she said, and emphasized using a mosquito net over the top of the container.

Additionally, reduce impermeable surfaces wherever possible, she said.

“If you happen to be redoing your driveway, it’s great to think about that and how much pavement is being used,” she pointed out. “There are alternatives now, like these little paver stones. The water can go through and around, back into the ground.”

And while it’s an extreme measure, think about installing a green, or living, roof, which is partially or completely covered with vegetation.

“I don’t know of any in Southampton Town. It’s kind of neat, but it’s certainly more effort than using less fertilizer,” Ms. Skilbred said.

She laughed, and continued, “You know, it’s easier for people who are waterfront to think about these connections, but all of us are within a watershed. About half of us in Southampton Town are Peconics and half of us are on the ocean side. But the impacts are the same.”

2010-11-15 - Newsday - Southampton OKs $445G in bonds for Reeve

Newsday - Southampton OKs $445G in bonds for Reeves Bay project

Click here for more details.

2010-09-20 - Call to Action Conference

Call to Action Conference

The Call to Action Conference brought out over 200 people throughout the day to show their support for the Peconic Estuary Program.

- The Sag Harbor Express - Saving the Estuary: Conference takes detailed look at water body

2010-06-30 - Invasive Ludwigia

Invasive Ludwigia

The PEP's recent invasive species initiatives have been highlighted on television and in print. Check out the coverage here...

Newsday June 30th 2009

Southampton Press, July 16, 2008

The Suffolk Times, May 4, 2006

The News-Review, May 4, 2006


2010-05-08 - CMEE Family Fun Day 2010

CMEE Family Fun Day 2010

Peconic Family Fun Day was a huge success on Saturday, May 8, 2010. Over 250 people attended this free event to raise awareness about the fragile and valuable Peconic Estuary.

- The Sag Harbor Express - Joining Forces For a Family Fun Day

- Click here to view video of CMEE Family Fun Day


2007-09-01 - EPA Approves Nitrogen Total Maximum Daily Loading

EPA Approves Nitrogen Total Maximum Daily Loading Document for Peconic Estuary

The recently approved TMDL will ensure that impaired waterbodies meet NYS dissolved oxygen standards.

Learn more...


2006-04-25 - Town of Riverhead Awarded Grant to Restore Fish Mi

Town of Riverhead Awarded Grant to Restore Fish Migration on the Peconic River

Supervisor Phil Cardinale announced that the Town was awarded a $25,000 American Rivers/NOAA Community- B ased Habitat Restoration Program Partnership. Funds will go toward restoring passage of alewife and American eel over the Grangebel Park dam. Learn more...

2005-11-03 - New York State Announces Funding for Water Quality

New York State Announces Funding for Water Quality Improvements & Habitat Restoration

Over $2.5 million was awarded for projects in the Peconic watershed. Funds will support a system to use the effluent from the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant to irrigate the adjacent Indian Island Golf Course, fish passage restoration on the Peconic River and stormwater management.
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2005-09-29 - NYS Acts to Protect Depleted Bay Scallop Populatio

NYS Acts to Protect Depleted Bay Scallop Populations

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation postponed the start of the 2005 scallop season and established minimum size requirements for harvest in an effort to restore the severely depleted bay scallop population in the Peconic Estuary.

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2005-07-11 - The Poop on the No Discharge Zone

The Poop on the No Discharge Zone

A new public education campaign is underway to inform boaters about the Peconic NDZ, or No Discharge Zone. The 2002 designation leads to cleaner and healthier waters by making it illegal for boaters to discharge treated or untreated wastes into any and all waters of the estuary. 
Learn more...

2005-04-25 - Pet Shops Join PEP to Prevent Exotic Plant and Ani

Pet Shops Join PEP to Prevent Exotic Plant and Animal Invasions


A new outreach effort is asking Peconic residents to have a Habitattitude. Don't dump unwanted pets and aquatic plants! 


2005-04-25 - State of the Bays Science Conference

State of the Bays Science Conference

On April 29, 2005, the PEP brought together 18 scientists from all over the Northeast to spearhead a day of scientific exploration. Nearly 100 attendees gathered to learn about the scientists' current research in the Peconics. The goal? To answer the question, "What is the environmental state of the bays? 
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2004-10-28 - Water Quality Improvement Projects Completed

Water Quality Improvement Projects Completed

The PEP teamed with DOT and others to improve wetlands and shorelines and to mitigate stormwater runoff at 14 locations in the estuary. The $2.06 million project also funded a new canoe launch on the Peconic River. 
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2004-09-23 - EstuaryLive


On September 23rd, students from across the country took a virtual field trip to the Peconic Estuary, simply by visiting a website. They saw hairy sea cucumbers and horseshoe crabs and learned about eelgrass, shellfish aquaculture and algae. 
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2004-09-22 - Nitrogen Management Challenge for Golf Courses

Nitrogen Management Challenge for Golf Courses

The PEP teamed with East End golf courses, the U.S. Golf Association and Cornell University in an effort to reduce nitrogen inputs to the estuary that may result from fertilizing fairways and greens. 
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2004-07-16 - PEP Mini-Grants

PEP Mini-Grants

In July, the PEP announced the funding of four different projects to sponsor marine education activities and improve water quality. A total of $7,999 was awarded to local towns and schools. 
Learn more...