Peconic Baykeeper is the only independent, not-for-profit advocate solely
dedicated to the protection and
improvement of the aquatic ecosystems of the Peconic and South Shore estuaries
of Long Island. Its clean water mission is advanced through conservation and
management initiatives, public education, research, monitoring and
participation in the public environmental review of projects and activities
that may adversely impact the ecological health of the region's estuarine
waters. Where violations of the law
threaten water quality or undermine protection of natural resources, our advocacy may include plaintiff litigation.
In 1997, Peconic Baykeeper became the 19th keeper organization to be sanctioned
by Waterkeeper Alliance.
The Peconic Estuary and its watershed have been recognized by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency as an estuary of "national significance" and one of 28 areas deserving
special protection under the National Estuary Program. (to learn more click on www.epa.gov/nep and www.peconicestuary.org) Its diversity of underwater and coastal
habitats supports an exceptional variety of marine life, birds and other
wildlife making this a vital economic, recreational and scenic resource for the
region. The estuary, located between Long Island's north and south forks, has
historically been one of the most productive estuaries on the eastern seaboard.
Comprised of over 100 distinct bays, harbors, embayments and tributaries that
cover approximately 120,000 acres of surface water, the estuary also features
over 3,600 acres of tidal wetlands and 245 linear miles of meandering
shoreline. The contributing watershed, the area of land that drains into the Peconic
system, encompasses approximately 110,000 acres of eastern Long Island.
The South Shore estuary defines the other
sub-region of the Peconic Baykeeper's mission waters. Situated on Long Island's south side and stretching from the
Nassau-Queens county line to the middle of the Town of Southampton, the South
Shore Estuary was formed during the past 5,000 - 10,000 years by the
interaction of rising seas and the glacial moraine that makes up Long Island.
This South Shore barrier island system encloses 173 square miles of bays now
characterized by tidal marshes, mud and sand flats, beds of underwater
vegetation, and estuarine shallows.
The watershed area is home to about 1.5 million people, thousands of
acres of productive shellfish beds, and numerous rare and endangered
species. In 1993, the South Shore
Estuary Reserve was declared to be a "resource of unparalleled biological,
economic and social value" by the New York State legislature. (to learn more
click on www.estuary.cog.ny.us)
Today, the fragility of Long Island's bays has
never been more evident, the victims of the very prosperity they helped to
create. As sprawl development continues
to harden the island's landscape, pollution threatens the vitality and health
of our bays. Their recovery depends on
the kinds of enlightened coastal management policies and responsible
development practices that can be adopted when citizens and communities are
informed and engaged in local decision making.