New York State updated its plan to protect the Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve, which stretches from the Hamptons to Nassau County, to factor in climate change, water quality and habitat restoration.
Local lawmakers and environmentalists welcomed the revisions, the release of which on Monday were timed to coincide with Climate & National Estuaries Week. The plan provides a roadmap for agencies to continue efforts to protect the estuary under a 1993 law intended to reduce pollution runoff into its bays and waterways that drain into them.
“The completion of this new plan for the South Shore Estuary is another significant step forward in our efforts to improve water quality in Long Island’s south shore bays,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
The estuary spans multiple bays, beaches, parks across both counties, six towns and 28 villages in a region home to 1.5 million people. In addition to supporting ecosystems for marine life, the estuary also supports the local seafood and tourism industries.
Town of Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said that the updated plan “addresses critical water quality improvement, ecosystem recovery, climate change and coastal resiliency needs in our region.”
Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, notes that many of the projects in the plan are evolving.
“Restoring these natural assets is critically important to our quality of life and our local economy,” she said. “We’ve protected sensitive wetlands, installed fish ladders, created new oyster reefs, advanced kelp farming and we are filtering polluted stormwater before it enters the marine environment. Now we must tackle new challenges and threats, including excessive nitrogen in our bays from waste water, harmful algae blooms, increasing plastic pollution, and climate change impacts such as ocean acidification and rising sea levels.”