New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the completion of construction on a marsh restoration project at Fireplace Neck Tidal Wetland Area in the town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County. In coordination with New York State Office of General Services (OGS), DEC completed the nearly $1.7-million restoration project to help stabilize the marsh system, improve ecological functions, and create a more resilient marsh prepared for the effects of climate change and global sea level rise.
“Tidal wetlands play a critical role in supporting New York’s diverse marine life, fish, and wildlife, while providing a first line of defense against extreme flooding and sea level rise in coastal communities,” said Seggos. “The project will improve resiliency and provide added ecological and recreational benefits in Suffolk County.”
Fireplace Neck Tidal Wetland Area is a 108-acre salt marsh located Brookhaven Hamlet, adjacent to Bellport Bay. Historical marsh development and vegetation degradation in the early 20th century altered the natural flow of water and sediments in the wetland. Habitat loss and the conversion of dry high-marsh habitat into low-marsh mudflats contributed to a less resilient coastline that faces growing threats from extreme weather events and sea level rise.
DEC and OGS worked with the design firm Henningson, Durham, and Richardson Architecture and Engineering, P.C., to improve the hydrology of the marsh and help stabilize the system, as well as maintain and improve existing ecological functions, bolster the marsh’s resiliency to large storm events, and support its ability to adapt to sea level rise. In addition to marsh improvements, improved road access, parking, and facility improvements will provide further benefits to recreational users. Restoration was funded through the Ocean and Great Lakes Fund and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grants program.
Hunting opportunities are available within Fireplace Neck and along the Bellport Bay shoreline. DEC announced spring turkey season opens May 1 in Suffolk County and Fireplace Neck is open to archery-only spring turkey hunting. For more information on Long Island’s Tidal Wetland Areas, visit DEC’s website.