The Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve
Photo Courtesy of William Fahey
The South Shore Estuary Reserve is a unique place for Long Island where saltwater from the Atlantic Ocean and fresh water from upland streams and groundwater mix. This 326 square mile watershed includes a system of streams and estuaries emptying into 173 square miles of south shore bays and wetlands.. The Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve extends for over 70 miles along the Atlantic shoreline of Long Island, from Reynolds Channel in Nassau County to the eastern shores of Shinnecock Bay in Suffolk County.
CCE's Work with the South Shore Estuary Reserve
The Western Bays is a sub-region of the South Shore Estuary Reserve, extending from the western boundary of the Town of Hempstead to the Nassau/Suffolk County line. They are home to the largest concentration of salt marshes in the South Shore Estuary Reserve. This system of bays and marshes provides critical habitat for birds and marine species, and offer abundant recreational opportunities for residents and tourists. Once productive fishing and shellfishing grounds, the water quality and habitat of the bays has deteriorated in recent decades. CCE continues to advocate for additional research to be done in order to diagnose and fix the ecological problems seen in this region.
The Forge River has experienced poor water quality since the early part of the 20th century. The combination of antiquated cesspools, failing septic systems, polluting duck farms, population growth and polluted stormwater runoff have adversely and severely degraded the river. The upper Forge River is included in the NYS DEC 303 (d) list as an impaired water body for pathogens, nitrogen, and dissolved oxygen/oxygen demand. CCE is working to protect and restore this important river.
Brown tide is a type of algae that can be disastrous to marine and plant life, including clams, which were once abundant in the estuary. Brown tide is an aquatic invasive species that causes millions of dollars of economic loss to our region. CCE has been working with elected officials to get the Department to Commerce to declare a "Commercial Fishery Failure for Hard Clams in the Great South Bay". If granted, the declaration could provide federal funding for clam restoration and re-seeding efforts.
The South Shore Estuary Reserve Comprehensive Management Plan
In 1993, the New York State Legislature created the South Shore Estuary Reserve Council and charged it with developing and ultimately implementing a comprehensive management plan for the estuary. The Council represents local governments, water related businesses, community groups, conservationists, environmentalists, academic institutions, and fishers. The Council is guided by input from the Citizens Advisory Committee. The Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) is engaged in public education activities and provides the Council with public perspectives on ways to implement the recommendations in the management plan. CCE chairs the SSER CAC.
The South Shore Estuary Reserve Comprehensive Management Plan (SSER CMP) was approved and signed in April 2001. The SSER CMP describes current reserve conditions, identifies important problems and trends affecting the estuary, and recommends actions that citizens, local governments and others can take to ensure that the South Shore Estuary Reserve is improved and protected for future generations. The goal of the plan is to balance the preservation of our delicate natural environment with the needs of a growing population. Issues addressed in the comprehensive management plan include water quality, living resources, public use and enjoyment, water related economy, and education and stewardship. The SSER office works in partnership with local governments and stakeholders to implement the SSER CMP, and to promote a better understanding and appreciation for this unique natural resource.
The South Shore Estuary Reserve Council Stewardship Award
The Stewardship Award recognizes individuals or groups that have made significant contributions to protect and restore our estuary's unique natural environment and maritime traditions.
Updated by mmurphy 1/4/13