Big Duck to be site of rain garden demonstration

The Long Island Duck sits on Rte. 24

The Long Island Duck sits on Rte. 24 in Flanders. Photo Credit: Newsday / Tony Jerome

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The Big Duck in Flanders has been picked by the federally funded Peconic Estuary Program for a demonstration project showing how simple steps can reduce pollution in the estuary system on the East End.

The iconic roadside tourist attraction will be getting a rain garden this summer. And a rain barrel.

Rain gardens have native plants that thrive with only rain water and do not need fertilizers, which can wash into the bay. Marine experts have said for years that fertilizer runoff into the estuary system must be prevented.

Most of the work of building a rain garden involves picking the right plants and digging out the soil to make sure the plants will retain moisture. "You have to do a little excavation to see the right material is under the garden," said estuary program director Alison Branco.

The rain barrel is even easier, she added. Just dig out a space for a barrel under a downspout, and make sure there is a screen on top to keep out mosquitoes. Then use the rain that is collected to water your plants.

A similar demonstration project is planned for this summer near Hashamomuck Pond in Southold Town, she added.

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The estuary program is offering a rebate to people who build rain gardens at homes along Reeves Bay in Southampton and Hashamomuck Pond in Southold. Payments are a maximum of $500.

The Southampton Town Board on Tuesday authorized the rain garden and the rain barrel installation at the Big Duck. The rain barrel will not be on the concrete duck building itself, but on one of the outbuildings.

The Big Duck, built in 1931, was once a store that sold ducks raised in Flanders. It is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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