Protecting & Restoring Long Island's Peconic Bays
In this first Peconic Estuary Program Environmental Indicators Report, 18 indicators were indentified to help assess the health of the Peconic Estuary. While the Peconic Estuary continues to show signs of stress, overall the indicators point to a healthy system, especially relative to other estuaries nationwide. Significant open space protects natural habitats, groundwater recharge areas, and surface water quality. Dissolved oxygen levels in most of the estuary support abundant flora and fauna. Clean bathing beaches afford recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Other indicators show signs of environmental stress. Low dissolved oxygen conditions occur in the tidal Peconic River, western Flanders Bay and tidal creeks; eelgrass beds are now virtually absent west of Shelter Island, and those that do exist are not expanding; and numerous pesticides have been detected in groundwater. In addition, local fisheries, especially bay scallops and winter flounder, no longer support commercial harvests. The PEP used these findings to evaluate the effectiveness of initiatives and to determine what new programs should be pursued to address existing and emerging priorities.