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Peconic Estuary Program Turns 20

October 19, 2012        

 

Peconic Estuary Program Turns 20

Bellone invites elected officials to renew their commitment to the environmentally sensitive habitat

Flanders, NY – October 19, 2012-- County Executive Steve Bellone today welcomed elected officials, environmental leaders, business and industry representatives, scientists, and residents to Hubbard County Park in Flanders to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Peconic Estuary Program. In a signing ceremony reminiscent of one that took place 10 years ago, when the PEP Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan was finished, each of the officials signed a pledge to protect and restore the estuary that has been called one of the "Last Great Places" in the western hemisphere by The Nature Conservancy.

The Peconic Estuary, which lies between the north and south forks of Long Island, comprises more than 125,000 land acres and 158,000 surface water acres. In 1992, after a citizen-led nomination effort, the Peconic Estuary became the twentieth estuary in the nation to receive designation as an “Estuary of National Significance” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That same year, in order to implement a comprehensive conservation and management plan for the watershed, local, state, and federal officials, citizen and environmental groups, businesses, industries and academic institutions joined forces to create the Peconic Estuary Program (PEP), an innovative partnership that is part of the National Estuary Program.

“During the past 20 years the PEP has achieved major strides in the restoration of Long Island’s Peconic Bays,” said Bellone.  “But there is more to be done to protect this productive ecosystem that is central to the east end economy, ecology, and way of life. Today we ask for a renewed commitment from our representatives and stakeholders so that we might continue to protect and restore the Peconic Bays.”           

Congressman Tim Bishop vowed to promote sustained federal support for the PEP-. "Our waterways define the quality of life that is so important to us on the east end,” said the congressman. “The success of the Peconic Estuary Project over the past 20 years shows the great things that are possible when a community unites to protect our precious environment. I will continue advocating strongly for investments in wastewater infrastructure that will improve our waterways and protect public health."

 “Peconic Bay is the natural jewel of Long Island's East End," said Joan Leary Matthews, Regional Director of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (US EPA) clean water unit.  "Working in partnership with the communities of Long Island and the Peconic Estuary Program, we can protect and further enhance this amazing water body."

New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle said, "The Peconic Estuary is a local treasure and a valued environmental resource. Congratulations to the Peconic Estuary Program on this its 20th anniversary. It is my sincere hope that PEP will carry on its critically important work for many years to come."

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, an initial sponsor of the Peconic Bay National Estuary Program said, "Very rarely do you see such a dedicated group of scientists, planners, elected officials, industry leaders and passionate citizens working together across political and geographical boundaries on issues that affect us all."

 “I would like to congratulate everyone who has worked with the Peconic Estuary Program on the 20th anniversary of this important partnership and thank them for the outstanding work that they have done to protect the Peconic Estuary, one of only 28 estuaries of national significance,” said  New York State Assemblyman Daniel Losquadro.

Peter Scully, Regional Director of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), said, "DEC has been a proud participant and partner in the Peconic Estuary Program since its inception. The Peconic Estuary delivers invaluable ecosystem services such as water filtration, critical habitat for many marine species and buffer zones that stabilize shorelines and protect coastal areas from flooding.  DEC is committed to continuing its long record of helping to improve the water quality of the estuary and preserving and restoring sensitive habitat within the estuary."

Kevin McDonald, director of public finance and policy for The Nature Conservancy on Long Island and Chair or the Peconic Estuary Program’s Citizens Advisory Committee, concluded, “We have more work to do.  After 20 years, we understand better how this remarkable system works and what the pollution threats are.  We all have to do our part to keep it healthy, thriving and productive; that includes every homeowner, business and industry on the east end. We collectively hold this resource in trust for future generations.” 

The National Estuary Program (NEP) was created by section 320 of the Clean Water Act amendments of 1987.  The NEP includes 28 estuaries around the US and Puerto Rico.  In addition to the Peconic Estuary Program, regional examples include the Long Island Sound Study, the New York – New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program, and the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. The National Estuary Program is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year.

 

 

Noting that the health of the Peconic Estuary is critical to the economy and quality of life on Long Island, County Executive Steve Bellone (center) invited elected officials and Peconic Estuary Program stakeholders to sign a pledge to protect and restore the estuary.

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