Peconic Estuary Program

The Peconic Estuary, situated between the North and South Forks of eastern Long Island, New York, was designated by United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an “Estuary of National Significance” in 1992.

The Peconic Estuary Program (PEP) is a partnership of local, state, and federal governments with citizen and environmental groups, businesses and industries, and academic institutions. They work together to protect and restore the environmental quality of the natural resources within the Peconic Estuary watershed.

The Peconic Estuary comprises more than 100 distinct bays, harbors, embayments, and tributaries and covers more than 125,000 land acres (196 sq. miles) and 158,000 surface-waters acres (247 sq. miles).

marsh monitoring

PEP is responsible for managing projects designed to protect and restore this magnificent ecosystem. NEIWPCC’s Elizabeth Hornstein coordinates the role of New York’s State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) as a crucial PEP partner. NEIWPCC’s Sarah Schaefer serves as Program Coordinator for the Peconic Estuary Program.

Together they assist municipalities and not-for-profits in forming partnerships, secure funding, and implement water quality improvement and habitat restoration projects- spearheading vital water quality and habitat management efforts.

Recent accomplishments and efforts include the following:

  • PEP Management Conference’s adoption of an innovative eelgrass management plan for the estuary, Conceptual Habitat Restoration Design Plans at sites throughout the watershed, the Peconic Estuary Program 2015-2018 Action Plan and the Peconic Estuary Program 2015 Ecosystem Status Report;
  • Continued control of the invasive, non-native aquatic plant, water primrose (Ludwigia peploides), in the Peconic River with
the help of partner agencies and volunteers;
  • Continued work on nitrogen pollution mitigation and reduction, fish passage, habitat restoration and stormwater
abatement projects through partnerships;
  • Implementation of an EPA grant to conduct a Long Island Tidal Wetlands Trends Analysis administered by PEP staff and NEIWPPC staff, to successfully assess quantitative and qualitative changes in wetlands since the last regulatory inventory in 1974;
  • Continued administration of the Peconic Estuary Homeowner Rewards Program to provide financial rewards for homeowners that add rain gardens, native plantings, and/or rain barrels to their properties and;
  • Reinvigorating awareness and involvement within the local communities about the Peconic Estuary Program.

For more information about NEIWPCC’s involvement with PEP, contact Richard Friesner , Ph.D. at

The Peconic Estuary Program can also be found on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.