Around the Island

Friday Night Dialogues: Preserving Peconic Estuary

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Shelter Island Library.
REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Shelter Island Library.

The Peconic Estuary Program, a partnership of local, state, and federal governments, citizens and environmental groups, businesses, and academic institutions, brings attention to the Peconic Estuary and its complicated and unique ecosystem and offers techniques to protect it. On Friday, March 17 at 7 p.m., Jenna Schwerzmann of the Peconic Estuary Program presents a lecture on the Homeowners’ Rewards Program as part of Friday Night Dialogues at Shelter Island Library. 

This unique opportunity for Peconic Estuary Watershed residents (including everyone on Shelter Island) offers up to a $500 reimbursement for “green infrastructure projects including Native vegetation plantings, rain garden installation, and rain barrel installation.”

The Peconic Estuary covers an enormous area, including both land and water, between the headwaters of the Peconic River by the Brookhaven National Lab and the Block Island Sound. The Peconic Estuary Program seeks to implement a plan approved in 2001 to manage and protect these lands and waters.

According to NOAA, estuaries are “bodies of water usually found where rivers meet the sea. Estuaries are home to unique plant and animal communities that have adapted to brackish water — a mixture of fresh water draining from the land and salty seawater.”

The Peconic Estuary contains a multitude of rare species of both animal and plant life. Because our area is still relatively rural, the Peconic Estuary remains a viable and active estuary. However, the increase in population and changes in the use of property have begun to affect the estuary. Most Island residents are aware of brown tides and the problems with local scallop population.

There are steps that can be taken by local residents to protect the Peconic Estuary. Rain gardens are shallow depressions planted with native plants near an area of rain run-off. These gardens help filter rainwater and allow it to drain into the aquifer. Ms. Schwerzmann will also discuss the beneficial nature of native vegetation planting and rain barrel installation. She will provide information about how you can receive up to $500 reimbursement for these green infrastructure projects.

Gather in the community room to learn how to protect the vulnerable estuary. There is no charge for this program however donations are always gratefully accepted.

Up Next:  On Friday, March 31 at 7 p.m. join us as we hear from author Tom Clavin about his new book, “Dodge City.”