Long Island Tidal Wetlands Trends Analysis and Wetland Loss Characterization Matrix
There are approximately 27,000 acres of vegetated high marsh and intertidal marsh remaining in New York’s Marine District; 49% is located in Suffolk County, 33% in Nassau County, and 2% in portions of Westchester, Bronx, and Queens Counties adjacent to the Long Island Sound. New York’s diverse coastal wetlands and their ecosystems are biologically, ecologically, economically, and recreationally valuable. It’s estimated that 60% of the recreational opportunities and 66% of the commercial fisheries and shellfisheries in New York’s Marine District depend on the resources and ecosystem services provided by tidal wetlands. These wetlands protect coastal water quality by acting as a sink for land derived nutrients and contaminants, constitute an important component of coastal food webs, provide valuable wildlife habitat, and protect upland and shoreline areas from flooding and erosion.
Alarming changes, including degradation, fragmentation and severe acreage losses have been observed in several Long Island, NY tidal wetland complexes during discrete and limited trends analyses. In order to begin to develop and implement advanced protection and restoration initiatives and policies, these changes must be studied in depth. The primary goal of the Long Island Tidal Wetlands Trends Analysis and Wetland Loss Characterization Matrix project is to assess the quantitative and qualitative changes, including the extent of marsh acreage lost or gained, and changes or shifts in tidal wetland vegetation since the last New York State regulatory inventory of 1974. The project team will calculate trends in tidal wetlands (i.e., losses and gains) across tidal wetland classes through the spatial databases produced by this project. The study area for this project includes coastal areas of New York State within the Long Island Sound, Peconic, and South Shore estuaries including all or parts of Westchester, Bronx, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties. Trends will be assessed on the individual marsh complex scale, and within and between each estuarine system. The project team will also develop a pilot wetland loss characterization matrix. The matrix will help natural resources managers and practitioners identify potential likely causes of change, which will then allow for the development of remediation and response strategies.
For more information, please contact Theresa Portante-Lyle, our Wetlands and Monitoring coordinator.