Shinnecock Indian Nation’s CHRP (Coastal Habitat Restoration Project) Part 1

Following Superstorm Sandy, the waterfront along the Shinnecock Indian Nation Reservation in Southampton, NY was greatly eroded and it suffered from substantial habitat loss. With no coastal plants left to provide any buffer from storm activity, the shorefront was at great risk of even more erosion and potential damage to homes, not to mention the lack of coastal plants to provide habitat to fish and wildlife in the area. The Department of the Interior’s Sandy Relief Grant Funding was awarded to the Shinnecock’s through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Habitat Restoration Program has a partnered with the Shinnecock Indian Nation to provide assistance and expertise in the re-vegetation and enhancement of this shoreline with several species of coastal habitat forming plants including eelgrass Zostera marina (underwater), marsh grass Spartina alterniflora (intertidal) and beach grass Ammophilia breviligulata (upland/dunes).  There will also be an oyster (Crassostrea virginica) reef installed offshore to further protect the shoreline and provide habitat.

Pre-beach nourishment photos Fall 2015.

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This multifaceted project would require some serious cooperation and effort. The first step was to relocate any existing species that would otherwise be smothered by the beach nourishment that would take place in the upcoming months. Shellfish including soft shell clams Mya arenaria and fragments of marsh grass Spartina alterniflora were collected and replanted nearby or brought back to CCE’s marine facility in Southold for grow-out and holding. Preliminary elevations were recorded and estimates of were the movement of a tremendous amount of sand to replenish the shoreline and increase the elevation in order for the plantings to be at the appropriate elevation to establish.

Scheduled maintenance dredging of Shinnecock Inlet was performed in December 2015, with arrangements made to move the dredge material from the inlet to the Shinnecock reservation’s western shoreline (along Shinnecock Bay) for the replenishment. In the next post, we will show you the effort it took to get all of the sand in place!

Funding for the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s Coastal Restoration project is provided by the Department of the Interior through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.CHRP offers many opportunities for involvement and volunteering.  You can help us reach our restoration goals by attending one of our workshops. Programming schedule is available at: