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 and monitoring, and environmental reviews of potentially damaging projects and activities. Peconic Baykeeper may also advocate in the face of legal violations that threaten water quality or undermine protection of natural resources. 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 one of “national significance” and one of 28 areas deserving special protection under the National Estuary Program. Its diversity in 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. Covering approximately 120,000 acres of surface water, the estuary is comprised of over 100 distinct bays, harbors, embayments and tributaries and 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. 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.
Today, the fragility of Long Island’s bays has never been more evident, 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 the bays. Their recovery will depend on enlightened coastal management policies and responsible development practices that can be adopted when citizens and communities are informed and engaged in local decision making.
The Robins Island Foundation, the regional affiliate of The Moore Charitable Foundation, supports Peconic Baykeeper in their advocacy work and clean water mission.
Learn more about Peconic Baykeeper here.