Posted on December 21, 2022
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the start of construction on a marsh restoration project at Fireplace Neck Tidal Wetland Area in the town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County. In coordination with New York State Office of General Services (OGS), DEC will complete the nearly $1.7-million restoration project to help stabilize the marsh system, improve ecological functions, and create a more resilient marsh prepared for the effects of climate change and global sea level rise.
“Restoring native habitats and improving the health and functionality of marine ecosystems is critical to support both the diverse marine life that rely on these areas for spawning, nursery, and foraging grounds, and to help protect our shorelines from effects of climate change,” said Commissioner Seggos. “DEC is proud to work with our partners at OGS on this important South Shore project and help realize long-term and lasting effects that strengthen our shores and support coastal communities.”
“The marsh restoration project at Fireplace Neck demonstrates New York State’s strong commitment to investing federal and State resources in projects that build resiliency into flood-prone areas adversely affected by climate change,” said OGS Commissioner Jeanette Moy. “The collaborative effort between OGS and DEC will benefit the marsh’s vital and diverse wildlife habitats and the visitors who enjoy the recreational opportunities it provides.”
Fireplace Neck Tidal Wetland Area is a 108-acre salt marsh located on Long Island’s south shore, adjacent to Bellport Bay. Historical marsh development and vegetation degradation in the early 20th Century altered the natural flow of water and sediments in the wetland. Habitat loss and the conversion of dry high-marsh habitat into low-marsh mudflats has contributed to a less resilient coastline that faces growing threats from extreme weather events and sea level rise.
DEC and OGS are working with the design firm Henningson, Durham & Richardson Architecture and Engineering, P.C., to develop and implement a restoration design plan for Fireplace Neck that will improve the hydrology of the marsh to help stabilize the system, maintain and improve existing ecological functions, bolster the marsh’s resiliency to large storm events, and support its ability to adapt to sea level rise.
Construction has been funded through the Ocean and Great Lakes Fund and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants program. The wetland area is closed to public access for the duration of the restoration project. Construction is expected to be completed by April 2023. Waterfowl hunting opportunities along the Bellport Bay shoreline will still be allowed provided hunting activities are conducted over Bellport Bay only.
For more information on Long Island’s Tidal Wetland Areas, visit DEC’s website.