Interested in helping to achieve the goals of clean water, abundant wildlife and healthy bays? Here’s what YOU can do to help the Peconic Estuary!
1. Reduce or eliminate fertilizer & pesticide use in your yard.
- Preserve all existing native landscapes and natural ground covers.
- Choose native plants for your landscaping.
- Choose disease-resistant and drought-tolerant plants.
- Minimize lawn areas, replacing turf with native or non-invasive, low-input plantings. Use integrated pest management (IPM) techniques, including beneficial insects.
- Start a compost pile to naturally nourish plants and reduce waste.
- Be tolerant. A natural lawn includes a variety of pests, predators, weeds, and plant species.
- Value a less green lawn.
- Make sure lawns are on a suitable soil.
- Use appropriate grass varieties (e.g., sun tolerant vs. shade tolerant).
- Take steps to improve soil structure (annual or periodic soil aeration, additions of organic matter, pH, etc.). Top dressing your lawn with a compost-soil mix will reduce your lawn's water needs and make it more resistant to drought and disease.
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn as mulch.
- Cut lawn no shorter than 3” to encourage deep roots. Longer grass also creates shade, making it harder for weeds to get established.
- Don’t overwater lawns (excess irrigation causes soil nutrients to be lost).
If you choose to fertilize…
- Test your soil annually before any application of fertilizer.
- Read and understand all product labeling.
- Apply a maximum of 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1000 square feet per year. Refer to the "Shed Guide to Fertilizer Application" for more detail.
- Choose fertilizers where the water-soluble nitrogen is no more than 20% of the total nitrogen in the mixture.
- Choose organic fertilizers, whereby all nitrogen in the mixture is non-synthetic.
- Keep equipment properly calibrated to avoid over-application.
- Don’t apply fertilizers and pesticides within 100 feet of surface waters and wetlands.
- Apply product only during growing season (typically mid-March through mid-October).
- Don’t apply fertilizers when the ground is frozen.
- Don’t apply fertilizers when it is raining, or when rain is imminent.
- Store any excess product safely, and do not apply just to “use it up.”
- Keep application records to avoid unnecessary applications.
2. Be a responsible boater.
- Comply with no-wake zones – excessive wakes erode the shoreline and, in the spring, interrupt nesting waterfowl and shorebirds.
- Stay in marked channels to avoid damage to your boat and wildlife habitats.
- Purchase a chart for your boating area to avoid shoals and mud flats. Prop dredging is detrimental to animals and plants that live in the shallows.
- Help to conserve eelgrass – avoid boating and anchoring in this sensitive habitat.
- Practice a “pack-in, pack-out” philosophy when it comes to trash and recyclables.
- Use a pump-out facility or hail a pump-out boat for disposing of sewage from your boat – the entire Peconic Estuary is federally recognized as a Vessel Waste No Discharge Zone.
- Put an oil absorber in your boat bilge, and change it at least twice annually.
- Use environmentally friendly cleaning products and antifreeze specifically designed for marine applications.
- Avoid overfilling fuel tanks to prevent spills.
- Recycle used oil and batteries.
- Do not squirt liquid soaps on spilled oil in water. This practice does not destroy oil, but rather breaks it up into smaller globules to disperse it even further. Instead, use absorbent materials to clean up spills.
- Perform maintenance, especially sanding and scraping, in drydock over a tarp.
- Choose environmentally friendly hull paints that contain Teflon, silicon, or cayenne pepper rather than toxic metals. Always lay a tarp under the boat when painting.
- Get an engine tune up – smooth-running, efficient engines pollute less (& use less fuel!).
- Upgrade to a new clean-burning marine engine (4-stroke or direct fuel-injection 2-stroke).
3. Don’t be a beach bum.
- Respect beach closures designed to protect endangered wildlife.
- Don’t climb on dunes. Even light traffic can erode these important habitats.
- Participate in the 20th Annual International Coastal Cleanup on September 16, 2006. Contact New York’s organizers – the American Littoral Society – for more information.
4. Fish fairly.
- Be informed about, and comply with, recreational fishing regulations, permits, etc.
- Practice catch and release.
- Use circle hooks, and avoid stainless steel hooks.
- Recycle monofilament fishing line in a designated receptacle (found at some tackle shops or marinas) or by contacting Berkley Fishing at 1-800-237-5539. Do NOT throw fishing line overboard!
- Support sustainable commercial fisheries.
- Properly dispose of fish waste (i.e., offshore or in the trash).
5. Beware of aliens.
- Remove invasive plants from your land. If plants can’t be removed, at least prevent them from going to seed. To learn more, click here to download Invasive Plant Facts for Gardeners and Homeowners, produced by The Nature Conservancy and Long Island Weed Management Area.
- Don’t release fish, turtles, or plants from personal aquariums.
- Don't plant non-native plants that spread aggressively (e.g., bamboo, purple loosestrife).
- Remove all hitchhiking animal and plant life from your boat and trailer when transporting your boat to the Peconics from other waterbodies.
6. Choose your household cleaners wisely, and dispose of them properly.
- Dispose of old cleaners and other hazardous materials at your town STOP (Stop Throwing Out Pollutants) days.
- Buy environmentally friendly cleaners (e.g., borax instead of bleach).
7. Build bay-friendly.
- Obey zoning laws when modifying your home and property.
- Use vegetation to naturally stabilize shorelines instead of bulkheading. If you do bulkhead, choose non-toxic materials.
- Eliminate or reduce stormwater runoff that leaves your property. Never pour anything down a storm drain.
8. Be septic savvy.
- Don’t dispose of toxic substances or pharmaceuticals in a septic system or cesspool.
- Watch out for signs of septic failure, such as ponding, strong odors, or backing up of drains or toilets.
- Have your system inspected regularly, and get your tank pumped when necessary.
- Plant shallow-rooted, not deep-rooted, shrubs and plants on or near your septic field.
9. Eliminate E-coli.
- Just scoop it – clean up after your pet.
- Don’t feed waterfowl, especially Canada geese and swans. Each day, one Canada goose produces 2 pounds of waste filled with 10 million fecal coliform bacteria!
10. Avoid the spotlight.
- Aim your floodlights into your yard – away from the water and night sky. Unnatural light at night has been shown to stress aquatic plants and animals, and may even fuel excess algal blooms.
- Install shielded, outdoor light fixtures that minimize “light pollution.” Click here for examples of night-friendly lights, courtesy of the Dark Sky Society.
11. Learn more & Speak out
- Ask your local schools and community to celebrate National Estuaries Day each September.
- Join the PEP Citizens Advisory Committee, and help chart the future of the Peconics.
- Subscribe to PEP Talk, the Peconic Estuary Program’s free quarterly newsletter.
- Use your power as a consumer to support local organic agriculture.
- Support elected officials in efforts to protect and restore the Peconic Estuary.
- Encourage your friends, family and co-workers to do their part to help the Peconics.
- Join a local environmental organization.
- Take a kayak, fishing pole, or your own two feet, and go explore and enjoy the Peconic Estuary.
- Request that nurseries and garden centers sell more native plants and only noninvasive plants.