County seeks federal funding for local waterways

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO A view of Peonic Bay from Mattituck beach
A view of Peonic Bay from Mattituck beach. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

County officials will be joining local farmers and environmentalists in Cutchogue Monday morning to urge the federal government to help fund projects aimed at restoring Long Island Sound and the Peconic Estuary.

County Executive Steve Bellone and Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) are calling on United States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to designate both water bodies as a region of critical importance under the newly created federal program named the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).

The 2014 Farm Bill, signed by President Barack Obama in February, authorizes $1.3 billion in spending over five years to help farmers adopt conservation practices in regions of the country facing significant environmental challenges.

Naming Long Island Sound and the Peconic Estuary as one of eight national critical designation areas would help fund agricultural conservation efforts, habitat restoration efforts and the sustainable use of soil, water and other natural resources, according to Mr. Bellone’s office.

Members of the region’s most influential agricultural and environmental groups — including the Long Island Farm Bureau, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Long Island Wine Council, Peconic Estuary Program and Peconic Land Trust — are expected join the two politicians in the efforts at Wickham’s Farm in Cutchogue Monday at 11:30 a.m.

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