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South Shore communities awarded state conservation grants

Hempstead Commissioner of Conservation and Waterways Thomas Doheny

Hempstead Commissioner of Conservation and Waterways Thomas Doheny and town conservation biologist Tara Schneider-Moran at the Lido Preserve on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, in Lido Beach. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Town of Hempstead has received more than $200,000 in state grants for conservation projects along the South Shore, officials said.

The six grants will allow the town’s Department of Conservation and Waterways to count the diamondback terrapin population, construct a reef in Lido Beach, create living shorelines, study pollutants, collect data on the tidal inundation levels of salt marshes and add access points to the South Shore Blueway Trail, state documents show.

“I think the funding definitely opens up new opportunities for research in our bays,” said town conservation biologist Tara Schneider-Moran.

Nassau County, the towns of Brookhaven and Islip, and the villages of Freeport, Patchogue and Rockville Centre also received Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve Local Assistance Grants, which were issued earlier this month by the New York Department of State. The total funds awarded was $668,385. This is the first time the grants have been awarded, State Department spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla said, and they are expected to be given out once a year in the future.

The South Shore Estuary Reserve, an area designated by state law where officials are charged with protecting the water quality and habitats, stretches about 75 miles from the Nassau County/New York City border east to Southampton Village, according to Department of State’s website. From south to north, the Reserve is from “the mean high tide line on the ocean side of the barrier islands to the inland limits of the drainage areas,” the website said.

Schneider-Moran said Hempstead Town’s studies are to include partnerships with Hofstra University and Adelphi University. She said some fieldwork is expected to begin in the spring, but each project has its own timeline.

A $15,570 grant will allow town officials and Hofstra researchers to count the diamondback terrapin in the waters, which could take two years, Schneider-Moran said.

“We don’t know what the population in our bays is here,” she said.

A $28,442 grant is allocated for the construction of a reef in the Long Beach High School Research Pond in Lido Beach with Adelphi. The money is also to be used to collect clam and oyster shells from local restaurants and seafood businesses. Schneider-Moran said the shells are a “limited resource that’s hard to get.”

And $50,000 is to add access points to the Blueway Trail, a network of water routes and launches along Nassau’s South Shore, in Oceanside Park, Newbridge Park, Cedar Creek Park and Seamans Neck Park, Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito said in an interview.

Other funds are to be used to study the town’s salt marshes and the effects of tidal inundation and sea-level rise, create living shorelines that would stabilize salt marshes and limit erosion, and collect samples to trace heavy metals such as arsenic, iron, mercury and lead, through the South Shore’s aquatic food chain, officials said.

“It’s definitely going to help us stabilize the South Shore wetlands,” D’Esposito said, calling the South Shore’s waterways a part of life for many Hempstead Town residents. “These grants will assist in making sure we prepare for the future and sustain that.”

Recipients of Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve Local Assistance Grants from the New York Department of State

Town of Hempstead - $202,510 (6 Six Projects)

Town of Brookhaven - $178,975 (4 Projects)

Village of Freeport - $100,000 (2 Projects)

Nassau County - $50,000 (1 Project)

Town of Islip - $50,000 (1 Project)

Village of Patchogue - $50,000 (1 Project)

Village of Rockville Centre - $36,900 (1 Project)

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