Federal funds to restore habitat at Cedar Beach Creek

Federal funds have been allocated for a restoration project at Cedar Beach, Congressman Lee Zeldin announced last Friday.

According to a Habitat Restoration Plan prepared by the Peconic Estuary Program last year, the project will restore ecosystem features in a “degraded” marsh area that has faced erosion challenges.

Their plan, which will be implemented by Cornell Cooperative Extension, will create 19.5 acres of salt marsh through reusing clean dredging materials, creating new oyster reefs, 1.7 acres of new seagrass meadow and improving the open water habitat in the 65-acre area.

Mr. Zeldin announced $480,000 in federal funding to back the project and said it would enhance critical marine habitats in the Peconic Estuary, designated by the EPA as an Estuary of National Significance.

“In a district nearly completely surrounded by water, we have a unique responsibility to safeguard our local environment,” Mr. Zeldin said in a press release. “An important component of our community’s ecosystem is our area’s wetlands and salt marshes which protect our shores from erosion, reduce the impact of flooding, absorb pollutants and protect water quality.”

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said the project would restore an ecosystem important to the East End. “It will also serve as a model that can be applied to other areas,” Mr. Russell said Friday, thanking Mr. Zeldin for the environmental support. “[Mr. Zeldin] has been a vehement opponent to proposals that threaten our environment,” Mr. Russell said. “He really talks the talk and the East End’s environment is better for it.”

The announcement comes on the heels of a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announcement that it will hold its inaugural Long Island Estuary Day on Saturday, Sept. 15 to celebrate the environment. It will be hosted by the Peconic Estuary Program, South Shore Estuary Reserve and Long Island Sound Study at the Seatuck Environmental Association in Islip.

The event will kick off National Estuaries Week, meant to celebrate local bays and estuaries and the benefits for local communities.

“Continual coordination between the three Long Island programs to communicate the major water quality issues facing Long Island coastal waters and the on-going development of solutions to these issues is of the utmost importance to the future of these water bodies and Long Island communities,” said PEP Executive Director Joyce Novak in a separate release Friday.

The theme of this year’s event is nitrogen pollution, which contributes to harmful algal blooms, fish kills, beach closures and shellfishing restrictions. You can preregister for the event online or contact Seatuck Environmental Association for more information.

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