County dredge heading east

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, joined by Supervisor Scott Russell (fourth from left) and other Southold Town officials last Thursday at Strong’s Marine on James Creek in Mattituck, announces the county’s winter dredging plans. James creek is one of the county’s top dredging priorities in Southold Town.

Suffolk County plans this winter to dredge James Creek in Mattituck, Little Creek in Cutchogue and Budds Pond in Southold as part of its annual effort to keeping waterways clear for navigation throughout the county.

County Executive Steve Levy announced the plans last week. Every year the county’s Department of Public Works dredges several creeks and harbors on the East End at no cost to the towns.

“Our pristine waterways are what set Suffolk apart,” said Mr. Levy. “By dedicating resources to keeping our waterways accessible, we are giving our residents the opportunity to enjoy these special and unique features within our region.”

The county plans to dredge 3,000 cubic yards of sediment from James Creek, where there are two large marinas and a boat ramp, beginning in early November. Approximately 5,000 cubic yards of sediment are slated to be removed in early December from Little Creek, where there is a public access boat ramp; and 2,000 cubic yards of sediment is to be removed from Budds Pond, where there are three marinas, in early January. Sediment from the creeks will be placed at nearby beaches.

The county may also dredge Wickham’s Creek in Cutchogue if it receives an Army Corps of Engineers permit in time to dredge this winter, said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell. Southold Town authorized the county to seek the permit last month.

Town Trustee Dave Bergen each year compiles a list of creeks that the town wants dredged. He said this summer that Wickham’s Creek was a priority because it had been closed to shellfishing due to poor water quality and because it serves a commercial marina, Cutchogue Harbor Marina.

The Trustees also asked the county to dredge Halls Creek in Mattituck and West Creek in New Suffolk, but those projects are unlikely to be completed this year. There are no marinas and little public access to Halls Creek, which the Trustees had hoped to see dredged for environmental reasons, which made it a lower priority on the county’s list.

There are no DEC or Army Corps of Engineers permits in place for West Creek inside of Kimogener Point, just west of New Suffolk. Mr. Bergen made note earlier this summer that West Creek will also likely be a lower priority for the county due to the fact that it does not have a commercial marina.

New strict New York State Department of Environmental Conservation requirements to protect winter flounder during spawning season have hampered dredging the past two years, after the state shortened the dredging season, which begins Oct. 15 and now ends Jan. 15 instead of in April.

“We’re always happy to see dredging getting done. It’s an essential component to the infrastructure of our community,” said Mr. Russell. “It’s a shame the federal and state permitting process makes it so difficult.”

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