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11 rail cars added to 2 artificial reefs off Long Island, Cuomo says

Eleven rail cars have been deployed to artificial reefs off Long Island, bringing the year’s total in the state reef program to 75, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday.

Seven rail cars were sent underwater at the Shinnecock artificial reef and four to the Moriches reef.

"Not only does the continued expansion of our reefs help marine life and habitats thrive, but it will also strengthen Long Island's fishing, tourism and recreation industries, which play an essential role in local economies all along the shoreline," Cuomo said in a news release.

The reef program, which began in 2018, is intended to create habitats for fish such as black sea bass and cod as well as barnacles, sponges and corals at the sea bottom, just as natural reefs do. More than 1,093 tons of materials have been deposited to date at 12 artificial reefs, according to the news release.

The Wells Fargo Rail Corp. donated the 75 rail cars, which were cleaned before being deployed in 2020, according to the news release.

The rail cars added to the 35-acre Shinnecock reef joined earlier deposits made under the program, including steel and rubble from the old Tappan Zee bridge; barges; and surplus armored vehicles. The reef, which is 2 nautical miles south of the Shinnecock Inlet, is 79 to 84 feet deep.

The Moriches reef lies 2.4 nautical miles south of Moriches Inlet and also includes material from the old Tappan Zee bridge in its 14-acre stretch.

"Long Island's artificial reefs are providing new habitat for countless marine species and increased recreational opportunities for the region's sport fishing and diving industries," Basil Seggos, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said in the news release. "New York's Artificial Reef Program is a perfect example of how environmental initiatives support economic growth."

Earlier this year, the state deposited rail cars at the Hempstead reef, Atlantic Beach reef, Fire Island reef and Twelve Mile reef.

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