07/14/17 5:40am
07/14/2017 5:40 AM

What makes the North Fork unique is its farmland, salt creeks and Peconic Bay. They draw people here and keep them here. From the point where the Peconic River enters the bay in Riverhead all the way east to Gardiners Bay, this stunning body of salt water is magic. That anywhere on the East Coast there are still farms that run to saltwater, as there are on the North Fork, is testament to generations of people here who refused to sit idly by and watch it all disappear.

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07/13/17 5:55am
07/13/2017 5:55 AM

Kevin McDonald remembers 1985, when brown tide was first detected in Peconic Bay. He was recently married, and he and his wife had purchased snorkels and face masks to explore the bay, where the water color was a “light-colored coffee” and it was hard to see six inches in front of their faces.

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02/11/15 2:00pm
02/11/2015 2:00 PM
Experts say native plants like these New England asters are preferred for rain gardens. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

Experts say native plants like these New England asters are preferred for rain gardens. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)

A unique program that allowed for a small number of homeowners in Southold and Southampton towns to earn a rebate of up to $500 for installing rain gardens, rain barrels or other forms of “conservation landscaping” on their properties has been expanded.  (more…)

04/27/14 10:00am
04/27/2014 10:00 AM
Group for the East End's Missy Weiss prepares soil with Victoria Witczak, 9, of Cutchogue, and her sister Julianna, 3, last weekend at Downs Farm Preserve in Cutchogue.

Group for the East End’s Missy Weiss prepares soil with Victoria Witczak, 9, of Cutchogue, and her sister Julianna, 3, last weekend at Downs Farm Preserve in Cutchogue.

Build a rain garden, help the environment, get a reward.

It’s a simple as that.

The federal Peconic Estuary Program, which was created 20 years ago to improve water quality in the Peconics, will offer rewards of up to $500 to residents in Southold’s Hashamomuck Pond watershed area and the Reeves Bay watershed in Flanders who work to combat groundwater pollution by installing rain gardens, rain barrels or other forms of “conservation landscaping” on their properties.  (more…)

03/07/14 2:00pm
03/07/2014 2:00 PM
A fish monitoring training session will be held at Grangebel Park at 12:30 p.m. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

A fish monitoring training session will be held at Grangebel Park at 12:30 p.m. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

The Peconic Estuary Program will host a community water quality workshop Saturday, bringing local citizen and leaders together to discuss different types of projects underway in the communities.

Different efforts including beach cleanups, native plantings and invasive species removal, as well as a fish population monitoring effort in downtown Riverhead will each be discussed.  (more…)

09/28/13 12:00pm
09/28/2013 12:00 PM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Coast of the Long Island Sound in Greenport.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Long Island Sound in Greenport.

In celebration of National Estuaries Day today, thousands of people nationwide will be making a “Toast the Coast,” in appreciation and support of keeping the nation’s rivers, bays and estuaries healthy.

The Peconic Estuary Program (PEP) is asking Long Islanders to join the 25th annual celebration by toasting the coast, and taking a photograph (preferably with the bay in the background) of their toast. Social media hash-tags #ToastTheCoast and #PeconicEstuaryProgram were started on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get word out about the celebration.

There’s also a photo contest on the Peconic Estuary Program’s Facebook page. The photo with the most likes by Monday will win a prize, program officials said.

“The toast is a nationwide show of support for protecting and restoring the estuaries and coastal areas that provide us and the environment with invaluable benefits,” said Alison Branco, director of the program. “Whether you are raising a glass of fresh water straight from your kitchen tap, or a glass of beer from one of Long Island’s many microbreweries, if it was made on Long Island it relies on keeping our water resources clean and healthy.”

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08/22/13 2:30pm
08/22/2013 2:30 PM
Diane Hewett Courtesy Photo | example of a rain barrel.

Diane Hewett Courtesy Photo | Homeowners can install rain barrels to collect runoff water, keeping water to use when needed instead of running into local estuaries.

Residents of the Hashamomuck Pond watershed in Southold will have an opportunity to earn cash to use for landscaping while they also help preserve nearby bay waters.

The Peconic Estuary Program announced Friday a new rewards opportunity designed to educate residents about the watershed and reduce the amount of pollutants entering the bay.

The pilot program is modeled on successful projects in Maryland and other states nationwide, said Jennifer Skilbred, education and outreach coordinator for the group.

About 470 property owners in the area are eligible to receive up to $500 each to build rain gardens or install conservation landscaping using native plants. That landscaping must cover a minimum of 50 square feet, according to the group.

Diane Hewett Courtesy Photo | Conservation landscaping utilizing native plants and mulch.

Diane Hewett Courtesy Photo | Conservation landscaping utilizing native plants and mulch.

Homeowners can also install 50-gallon (or larger) rain barrels to catch water to use for watering plants. All the projects are intended to reduce the amount of stormwater entering the nearby estuary, Ms. Skilbred said, and the total reward depends on which projects a property owner pursues.

Homeowners are also asked to avoid using pesticides and fertilizers, according to the program’s application requirements.

A total of $50,000 in federal funding has been secured for the program through the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s on a first-come, first-served basis,” Ms. Skilbred said. “The more homeowners we get involved the better.”

Program officials will host a community meeting to demonstrate the different project options and inform homeowners about the requirements.

For more information on the rewards program visit peconicestuary.com or contact Ms. Skilbred at [email protected].

[email protected]

10/21/12 9:00am
10/21/2012 9:00 AM
Tim Bishop, DEC, EPA,

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | From left, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, Congrssman Tim Bishop, Joan Leary Matthew of the EPA, and Alison Branco, the Peconic Estuary Program administrator.

The Peconic Estuary Program, which is part of a network of 28 nationally protected estuaries, turns 20 this year.

Officials who helped to foster the program that put the Peconic Bays in the national spotlight renewed their pledge to protect the bays in the future, at a press event overlooking Flanders Bay at Hubbard County Park in Flanders Friday morning.

The event was organized by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who arrived late because he had difficulty finding the park.

“Nine months in, I’m still getting to know some of our resources,” he joked, before presenting a proclamation honoring the 20th Anniversary of the Peconic Estuary Program to the program’s director, Alison Branco, a marine biologist with the county health department’s office of ecology.

“This program has been critical to protecting the beauty of our way of life,” he said.

Attendees to the event included federal, state and local environmentalists and government representatives, many of whom played a critical role in convincing the federal government to place the Peconic Bays in the National Estuary Program in 1992.

The designation has made the bays eligible for funding at all levels of government for programs ranging from free boat pump-out service to storm drain installation to brown tide research and scallop restoration projects.

“This is a great day for Eastern Long Island and a great day for the Peconic Estuary,” said Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton).

Mr. Bishop stressed that more work has to be done to keep the federal government at the table in protecting sensitive estuaries.

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who was serving on the county Legislature when the county petitioned the federal government to make the Peconics a national estuary, recalled the Legislature’s efforts, as well as the efforts of Kevin McDonald of the Nature Conservancy environmental group, which helped lead the charge to have the estuary included in the program.

Mr. Theile echoed the theme of many public officials in attendance Friday, that the estuary is crucial to the tourism industry and the economy of Eastern Long Island.

He turned to look out the window of the building where the press conference was held, through the falling rain, at the salt marshes and the bay.

“I see a beautiful site, but I also see jobs,” he said.

DEC regional director Peter Scully pointed out that the state has invested in scallop restoration and other projects since the estuary was added to the national program.

“Good work begets good work,” he said. “This is a solid program.”

[email protected]