PRESS RELEASE: Save the Sound and partners to begin installation of green infrastructure at Sunken Meadow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 17, 2019

Contact:      Anthony Allen, 860-604-7207
Laura McMillan, 540-292-8429

Save the Sound and partners set to begin installation of green infrastructure at Sunken Meadow State Park

18 acres of parking lot retrofits will treat stormwater

Smithtown, N.Y.—Save the Sound and New York Parks have begun efforts to retrofit 18 acres of paved parking lot with green infrastructure improvements that will reduce stormwater runoff pollution to Sunken Meadow Creek and Long Island Sound. This new project comes as part of the larger Sunken Meadow Comprehensive Resilience and Restoration Plan, a multi-million-dollar effort to restore the park’s long-compromised marsh ecosystem and enhance its ability to deal with coastal storms.

Each year, millions of gallons of stormwater fall on the lot, which is roughly the size of 58 Olympic swimming pools. This stormwater makes its way to the creek, and ultimately the Sound, as runoff that contains oil and grease, litter, and other pollutants. The planned improvements include the installation of eight bioswales, two constructed wetland areas, and other infrastructure to capture and filter runoff from the parking lot before it enters the newly restored marsh. This project targets one of several paved lots currently designated for parking at Sunken Meadow State Park, part of which will continue to serve as a distinct lot reserved for event parking at the Pavilion at Sunken Meadow.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation kicked off work in late March by beginning removal of unneeded pavement. Installation of the green infrastructure will begin this month, with completion projected for early July. Additional phases of green infrastructure installation will occur this fall.

“The recovery this salt marsh has already shown is an incredible display of nature’s resilience, and we’re excited to see how cleaner water for Sunken Meadow Creek continues that momentum” said Gwen Macdonald, director of ecological restoration for Save the Sound. “This latest phase will use plants and soil to treat millions of gallons of stormwater a year. We’re giving nature a gentle boost to speed up the recovery process and benefit not only the local ecosystem but also nearby communities that depend on a hearty coastline for protection from storms and sea rise, and clean water to enjoy swimming in. This project continues to be a great illustration of what can happen when state agencies, nonprofits, and committed volunteers join forces.”

Sunken Meadow Creek and adjoining saltwater wetlands were cut off from the tidal flow of Long Island Sound in the 1950s by a man-made barrier, turning the area into a freshwater marsh. This caused marsh die-off while drastically altering its ecosystem and species composition. After Hurricane Sandy breached the barrier and re-opened the channel to saltwater flow in 2012, Save the Sound began work to aid the marsh in its recovery, with support from federal grants.

In 2015 and 2016, over 100 volunteers joined Save the Sound and Parks staff in planting native marsh grasses. In 2018, construction partners removed the invasive freshwater reed Phragmites and regraded the surface of the marsh to improve saltwater inundation, after which volunteers joined in planting over 25,000 native marsh grass plugs across two acres of recovering saltwater marshland as well as shrubs on adjacent upland to control erosion and provide wildlife habitat. The installation of green infrastructure over the next couple of months will help improve water quality in Sunken Meadow Creek and mitigate the impact of polluted runoff on the resurgent marshland ecosystem.

There will be volunteer opportunities this fall at Sunken Meadow State Park. Interested individuals or parties should reach out to restoration@savethesound.org.

Funding for this project is provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior and administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as part of the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program, with additional funding provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

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Site visits for press during construction must be coordinated through Save the Sound by contacting Anthony Allen at 860-604-7207. Thank you!

More information on the Sunken Meadow Comprehensive Resilience and Restoration Plan:

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