During the peak production years of the Long Island Duck industry, which spanned the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, duck farms could be found on almost all the freshwater streams in the Riverhead, Eastport and Moriches areas. By the end of the 1930s, about six million ducks were produced on approximately 90 farms located in Suffolk county. Duck farms operations caused dramatic environmental alterations, both on and off site, and the legacy of that industry has left us with degraded shoreline sites, altered bay and creek hydrology, and bay bottoms that are soft and oxygen depleted.
Now, more than a dozen former duck farms are publicly owned by the County, Federal, State and Brookhaven, Southampton and Riverhead Town governments. While many former duck farms have been developed for private residential use, a significant amount of former duck farm acreage remains underutilized and available for development. The use of these properties in the future poses a unique planning challenge with ramifications for coastal development, open space acquisition, and stream and wetland habitat restoration.