Blog

Forge River Restoration Begins

News
October 19, 2018

By Yvette DeBow-Salsedo

Patience and consistency, words we often use in conservation, are the essence of our work along the Forge River in Mastic Beach.

After years of planning and preparation, the restoration of 4 acres of waterfront land has finally begun. The Trust acquired the property from the Stony Brook Foundation in the Fall of 2014 and began the process of applying for grants from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) for properties impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

The property, which had a house and numerous structures, was badly damaged during the storm.

The grants cover the acquisition of a conservation easement on the property (approximately 85 percent of the land’s value) along with funding to restore the land to enhance its ability to be a natural buffer from storm surges for the surrounding community. And, with the elimination of the septic system, the restoration will contribute to improving the water quality of the Forge River.

The community generously donated to the acquisition, covering the remaining 15 percent of the property’s acquisition costs.

With plans and permits in hand, the Trust and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) oversaw the demolition of the buildings earlier this month along with a re-grading and seeding of the area to protect the soil over the winter. In the Spring the Trust and NRCS will complete the restoration plan by planting native species and managing invasive plants.

All of these actions are anticipated to help with the overall resiliency of the shoreline.

“The property, which was damaged during Hurricane Sandy, provides an excellent opportunity to optimize coastal resiliency along the Forge River. Parcels like this include wetlands that act as natural sponges in storm surges. By removing the existing residence and its septic system, we are not only helping to improve the river’s resiliency but also reducing pollution by one less septic system. The property will forever be a nature preserve and will contribute to the overall health of the Forge River,” said John v.H. Halsey, President, Peconic Land Trust.

For more about this project, contact the Director of Stewardship, Matt Swain at MSwain@PeconicLandTrust.org.

From our 2014 newsletter:

Partnership with USDA, NYS DEC and Stony Brook Creates Nature Preserve Along the Forge River in Mastic Beach

Conserving vulnerable properties along the Forge River has long been a priority for both the residents of Mastic Beach and the Town of Brookhaven in order to improve the quality of the river, especially in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

In early September 2014, with encouragement from local residents, the Town of Brookhaven, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Peconic Land Trust purchased a 4+ acre parcel on the peninsula of the Forge River from the Stony Brook Foundation.

The property includes a single-family house, detached garage, and boathouse. The purchase represents the first step toward our goal of removing the structures from the property and restoring it to its natural state.

The property was originally donated to Stony Brook by Jack Macrae and Paula Cooper in 2009.

A special thank you to the Trust’s Co-chair Thomas B. Williams, who reached out to the Stony Brook Foundation and began the conversation that led to the Trust’s acquisition of the property. Tom, a resident of Brookhaven, learned that the Foundation was in the process of selling the property, and together with Trust staff and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, put together a plan for the Trust to acquire the property—which included applying for a USDA grant for acquisition and restoration. In the meantime, we used our Revolving Fund for the acquisition.

In October 2014, the Trust received confirmation from the USDA of its two-part grant:

  1. the purchase of an easement from the Trust that extinguishes the development rights and protects the property in perpetuity, and
  2. the restoration of the property to its natural state.

“The property will forever be a nature preserve,” explains Project Manager Kim Quarty. “The Trust will be working in partnership with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service on a restoration plan that will include the removal of the structures that were damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Their removal will reduce pollution by one less septic system and improve the resiliency of the Forge River as the restored wetlands will act like natural sponges in storm surges.”

To learn more about this project and get involved, contact Project Manager Kim Quarty at 631.283.3195 or KQuarty@PeconicLandTrust.org.

×
Support the Peconic Land Trust
Peconic Land Trust needs your support to protect the working farms, natural lands, and heritage of Long Island.