Suffolk County Legis. Jim Mazzarella (R-3rd District) announced this week that Suffolk County had begun the Tidal Wetland Restoration at Smith Point County Park to Improve Protection against Flooding and Storm Damage at the Smith Point Marina.
“We can never forget the lessons we learned from Superstorm Sandy, and there is still much work to be done to protect our communities,” said Mazzarella. “This project will play a large role in accomplishing that goal.”
The current plan restores 77 acres of tidal marsh, improves local natural conditions, and stimulates marsh growth through native vegetation. The project includes:
• Removing materials from existing manufactured berms.
• Using berm material to fill historical grid ditches.
• Creating new channels to convey water runoff and improve mosquito control.
• Establishing new mircopools for fish habitat and mosquito control.
The project is funded by a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant. Suffolk County identified the Smith Point Marina as an ideal location for the project. Unfortunately, the massive tidal surge of Sandy caused an estimated 5.7 feet of storm tide, inundating the surrounding neighborhood with as much as 3.9 feet of flooding.
Flood inundation also compromised on-site wastewater systems, including septic systems, rendering them inoperable and impacting public health and safety.
“Community engagement and involvement play a critical role in the project planning,” said Mazzarella. “I want to thank the Mastic Beach/Smith Point of Shirley Planning Committee for their efforts in developing the Mastic Beach and Smith Point of Shirley New York Rising Community Reconstruction (NYRCR) Plan.”
The NYRCR conducted a risk assessment and determined the community to be at extreme risk of frequent floodwater inundation and vulnerable to erosion over the next 40 years.
“The community came together after Superstorm Sandy and said we need to take steps now and plan for the worst to make future weather events less impactful on the community,” stated Mazzarella. “Today, we are seeing the results of those planning steps as we physically have boots on the ground implementing a plan to improve the resiliency of our area.”
The marsh restoration plan will fill approximately 9,090 feet of existing mosquito ditches using material from adjacent berms and “coir logs,” which degrade slowly and are replaced by sediment and returned to natural marshland. When complete, 2,790 linear feet of narrow, shallow channels and 12 micropools will create fish habitat in the marsh. These micropools are located areas identified and known to breed mosquito larva.
“It was truly amazing to get a first-hand look at this work in progress,” said Mazzarella. “By restoring this area to its natural habitat, we promote coastal resiliency, prevent future storm surges, hardening the shoreline while also working to decrease the mosquito population. This project is a tremendous victory for our community.”
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