revert to healthy wetlands, Brookhaven Town and The Nature Conservancy aim to reduce the risk of flooding in the area.
By allowing the parcels to revert to healthy wetlands, Brookhaven Town and The Nature Conservancy aim to reduce the risk of flooding in the area. © Alison Branco / TNC

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Brookhaven Town, The Nature Conservancy Acquire 106 Coastal Parcels to Prevent Flooding in Mastic Beach

Purchase will protect neighboring communities from climate-change-related flooding and sea-level rise.

Using an innovative approach to adapt to the growing dangers of coastal flooding caused by climate change, The Nature Conservancy and the Town of Brookhaven today purchased 106 vacant, coastal land parcels in Mastic Beach. The 22 acres of parcels are in a high-risk flood zone and adjacent to one of the South Shore’s few remaining wetlands. The $1.35 million purchase will enable the Town to reduce the risk of flooding in the area by letting these parcels revert to healthy wetlands. 

The parcels lie in an area increasingly prone to flooding. In the last six months, the area has flooded nine times, including on days with no rain, a phenomenon often referred to as “sunny-day flooding.” 

“Flooding has become an increasing issue in low-lying areas, such as the Mastic peninsula, because of rising sea levels. Preserving these coastal wetlands will provide long-term protection for residents in this community by providing a natural barrier,” said Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine. “Over the past several years, the Town has made a priority of protecting and restoring coastal wetlands through strategic purchases such as this. Working together with The Nature Conservancy, this major addition of property for this ongoing program is a win-win for our residents and the environment.”

The purchase is important because natural areas like these wetlands reduce the force of storms and ocean waves. They act as a natural barrier or shield, helping to prevent the flooding of people, buildings, and the roads behind these wetlands. As climate change causes our seas and groundwater to rise, natural barriers like wetlands are increasingly needed. 

“Climate change is already affecting thousands of New Yorkers, including many of us living along Long Island’s South Shore. In the months and years ahead, more and more of us will face frequent flood events. This land purchase will go a long way in better protecting Mastic Beach residents. One of the best ways to prepare for a future with more water is to protect and restore our natural areas. The Nature Conservancy thanks the Town of Brookhaven for their proactive commitment to creating a safer future for Long Island,” said Alison Branco, New York Director of Coastal Programs for The Nature Conservancy. 

These wetland parcels also serve as critical habitat for commercially and recreationally important fish species, including juvenile bluefish and striped bass, as well as wildlife habitat for many bird species such as herons, egrets, and salt marsh sparrows, which live only in salt marshes. 

“Protecting the environment and residents from coastal flooding is part of our unprecedented and continued effort on behalf of the residents of Mastic Beach and Brookhaven Town. This major acquisition of coastal properties will have an enduring effect on the area and these efforts will continue. I’m proud to be part of a Town Board that is committed to environmental leadership,” said Deputy Supervisor and Councilman Dan Panico.

The Nature Conservancy contributed $250,000 to the $1.35 million purchase price. This project is an important model that other towns and cities can advance to prevent flooding, preserve critical natural resources, and absorb carbon pollution. 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.