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Setauket Harbor Task Force

George Hoffman of Setauket Harbor Task Force tests water chemistry in Port Jefferson Harbor. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Long Island Sound, our shimmering jewel, is not just a watery highway or a scenic backdrop — it’s the very lifeblood of our region, pulsing with economic vitality, ecological diversity and recreational wonder. But this precious resource is increasingly under threat, its vibrancy dimming in the face of pollution, overdevelopment and climate change.

The Sound is an economic powerhouse, supporting jobs in fishing, tourism and maritime industries. Its oyster beds once rivaled those of Chesapeake Bay, and our waters teemed with cod, lobster and striped bass, fueling a profitable fishery. For generations, Long Islanders have cast their nets and lines, and livelihoods into the waters.

But pollution casts a long shadow. Runoff from urban centers and fertilizers alike can choke the Sound with nitrogen, feeding harmful algal blooms depleting oxygen and leaving behind dead zones where no life can thrive. Plastic waste can drown marine life, and microplastics enter the food chain, silently posing a threat to human health.

The changing climate adds another layer of urgency. Rising sea levels inundate coastal communities, eroding beaches and threatening infrastructure. Hurricanes become more frequent and ferocious, battering our shores. As the waters warm, delicate ecosystems shift, impacting fish populations and the intricate web of life beneath the surface.

To stand idly by as the Sound fades would be a betrayal of our heritage and a reckless gamble with our future. We must act now, with resolute hearts and committed minds, to become stewards of this irreplaceable ecosystem.

The solutions are multifaceted. 

We must support policies that curb pollution, reduce runoff and invest in clean water infrastructure. Solutions like the Long Island Sound Restoration and Stewardship Act set for reauthorization from the U.S. Rep. and advocate Nick LaLota (R-NY1). Solutions that allow for stricter regulations on coastal development and responsible management of our shorelines. 

We must continue to uplift the work of the Setauket Harbor Task Force in Setauket and Port Jeff harbors. We must recognize the diligence and continued efforts from Stony Brook University researchers at SoMAS to the ongoing betterment of our beloved Sound. 

Individual actions matter too: reducing our use of pesticides, adopting responsible waste disposal practices and supporting sustainable seafood choices — each ripple contributes to a healthier Sound.

The Long Island Sound is not just an expanse of water, it’s the soul of our region. Let us rise to the challenge, not just for ourselves, but for generations to come. 

By Aidan Johnson

The Setauket Harbor Task Force held its annual Setauket Harbor Day under sunny skies last Sunday, Sept. 17, despite initial concerns over bad weather.

The event included live music, environmental lessons and free boat rides at the hamlet’s dock and beach on Shore Road.

“The purpose of the event is to show people how beautiful the harbor is and the different activities that can happen along the harbor,” said Laurie Vetere, a Setauket Harbor Task Force co-founder with George Hoffman. “We also have a lot of environmental groups, so it [has an] educational purpose as well — to try and get the kids involved and just make everybody aware of the natural beauty.”

Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) attended the event, remarking upon Setauket Harbor Day as a way to help people learn how to preserve Long Island’s waterfronts.

“I think that for waterfront communities like ours, it’s one thing to enjoy it, and it’s another thing to be educated on how to preserve and improve it,” he said.

“This is basically an opportunity for us to get a lot of these educational groups out here and get them to interface with the public so that people … can get on board with some of the initiatives that we’re trying to do to protect the water quality,” he added.

Kornreich also doubled as one of the live music performers during the festivities.

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Work by East Setauket Pond Park is expected to be completed by the end of June, according to Brookhaven’s Highway Department.. Photo by Emma Gutmann

By Emma Gutmann

Construction on East Setauket Pond Park has spilled out onto Route 25A and into the town parking lot beside Se-Port Delicatessen.

On weekday mornings and afternoons, one lane at the intersection of Main Street and Gnarled Hollow Road is coned off to accommodate the first phase in the pond park project. 

The work has its roots in the Setauket Harbor Task Force, an environmental not-for-profit organization founded by George Hoffman and Laurie Vetere in 2014. The group’s board shared concern over the contaminated appearance of Setauket Harbor and gathered any information they could find on the historical body of water.

Since other governmental entities handled the greater Port Jefferson Harbor complex, tackled nonenvironmental issues and often worked independently, the task force narrowed its focus on environmental work to ensure Setauket Harbor received the attention it needed.

As a result, former New York State Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) secured a $1 million NYS grant for the Town of Brookhaven “to fund projects aimed to improve water quality in Setauket Harbor and the surrounding watershed,” according to a town press release in 2016. Additional funds have since been acquired with the help of town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) and Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook). 

In a phone interview, Hoffman said the two town elected officials are very supportive of the task force and have been instrumental in advancing the pond park project. “Whatever we ask for, they find a way to help us,” he said.

Kornreich reported by email that the following components were recently installed: both water quality units, pipe connections to the units and culvert crossing under the road, the outfall that empties into the pond and three catch basins on Route 25A. Suffolk County Water Authority completed the water main offset necessary to the project’s new installations a month ago.

In an email, town Highway Department PR assistant, Kristen D’Andrea, said she expected an early conclusion to this stage of the work. “The water quality improvement project at East Setauket Pond Park is about 90 percent complete,” she said. “Crews hope to finish by the end of June.” 

In addition to Romaine and Kornreich, Hoffman also credited the project’s success to the support of town Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R).

The town’s plans do not stop at clean water conducive to clamming. With each hurdle overcome, the park is a step closer to eventually becoming a centerpiece of the downtown area. 

 As for the work directly in the road, Kornreich said the team still needs to install the last catch basin and restore the sidewalk and road. Conversations with the state Department of Transportation are ongoing to coordinate night work and lane closures. The construction will pause from Friday, May 26, through Monday, May 29, for Memorial Day weekend and the local parade.

In response to drivers inconvenienced by the temporary traffic flow, Hoffman said, “Keep the faith. You’re going to see great improvement in the Setauket Harbor in terms of water quality and it will also help us move forward on a beautiful park that could be there in the next couple of years. If clamming comes back, we’ll have accomplished what we set out to do.”

Workers install a water quality unit at East Setauket Pond Park. Photo by Rita J. Egan

Residents passing by East Setauket Pond Park have noticed the area has been fenced off recently.

At the March Three Village Civic Association meeting, Town of Brookhaven Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) updated members on the work being done on the pond. Two water quality units are being installed to capture road runoff, such as sediment and floatables, from Route 25A and interconnected town roads before the debris goes into Setauket Harbor.

In an email, Veronica King, Brookhaven’s stormwater manager, said the project is expected to take approximately two months.

The current and past work at the park has been a result of a $1 million clean water grant for the Town of Brookhaven that former state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) secured in 2016.

George Hoffman, one of the founders of Setauket Harbor Task Force, said in a phone interview that he was pleased that the units would be finally installed.

“It’s critical to improving water quality in Setauket Harbor,” he said. “The harbor is struggling. We haven’t been able to clam there for 22 years. It’s unsafe to take clams from that harbor, and that’s based on bacteria in the area and a lot of the bacteria comes in through the stormwater.”

He added the filtering of road runoff would also lessen how often the pond has to be dredged.

At the civic meeting, Kornreich also told the attendees that the town recently purchased the property where East Setauket Automotive stands today with the hopes of building a larger park in the future. In a phone interview, Kornreich said the auto and truck repair shop will remain until 2025, and he said the town plans to be sensitive to the needs of businesses surrounding the park. 

New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) has held elective office continuously since 1983. Englebright’s long tenure now comes to a close. 

In a tight state election for District 4 last month, Englebright narrowly lost to his Republican Party challenger Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson). In an exit interview, the outgoing assemblyman reflected upon his pathway into government, the legislative victories throughout that time and the meaning of public service.

The road to politics

Growing up, the young Englebright spent much of his time in libraries. He found refuge in books, which satiated his curiosity and “compelling interest in how things worked.” He also nourished a lifelong fascination with history through those hours devoted to learning.

Leading up to his first run for office, Englebright said he was deeply disturbed by the environmental degradation characteristic of those times. The “almost daily reports” of overdevelopment and sprawl, oil spills and drinking water contamination, each had left a deep and abiding impression on him.

‘The proper role of government is to protect the people who sent you.’ — Steve Englebright

He was teaching geology at Stony Brook University when he began considering public life. “I realized that drinking water was the first limiting factor for the continued well-being of this Island, and I was not really seeing any meaningful public policy growing out of the reports of chaos,” he said.

The late professor Hugh Cleland, from the SBU Department of History, would prove to be the catalyst behind Englebright’s ascent to politics. Cleland sat down with him at the campus student union. For several hours, the two discussed a possible bid for a Suffolk County legislative seat.

“This was a really serious and credible and well thought-out request that he was making,” Englebright said. “So I didn’t just wave it off. I gave it some thought and, sure enough, I found myself saying, ‘What’s next?’” 

After that meeting, Englebright decided to run and was elected to the county Legislature in 1983. He won election after election for the next four decades.

County Legislature

Upon entering the county Legislature, Englebright simultaneously confronted an array of environmental dilemmas. He described the defunct Long Island Lighting Company, the precursor to today’s Long Island Power Authority, as “at that time wanting to build a small galaxy of nuclear power plants on Long Island.” He stressed that the utility company was favoring its shareholder interests at the residents’ expense. 

Englebright successfully championed, along with a grassroots movement of LILCO ratepayers, against the construction of the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant and other nuclear plants to follow. Their resistance efforts were grounded primarily in the risks associated with evacuation.

Another major policy issue during his early political career was the protection of groundwater and surface waters in Suffolk County. “I pushed successfully for the largest county-level open space program in the nation,” he said. He was one of the earliest critics against sprawl. 

As a county legislator, he initiated the first plastics ban in the nation. Though ahead of his time on the issue, he admitted that not enough has been done elsewhere to counteract the problem, which he said “has exploded into a worldwide catastrophe.”

He sponsored legislation excising a small fee on hotel and motel rooms, considering the measure as a fee on tourists allowing for their continued enjoyment of the area through reinvestment into the county’s most attractive destinations.

“If you wonder why county Legislator [Kara] Hahn [D-Setauket] is able to have some discretion to provide funding to Gallery North or the Reboli Center, that funding is coming from the hotel/motel room fee,” he said.

State Assembly

New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket). Photo from North Island Photography and Films

As a state assemblyman, Englebright quickly picked up where he left off, building upon and expanding his county policies at the state level. Among his earliest actions was the Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act, a state law ensuring the preservation of the Pine Barrens as open space.

He sponsored some of the original laws in New York state related to solar power and other renewables. “In my first year in the state Legislature, I was successfully pushing for legislation that had paved the way for the electronic age,” he said.

Englebright added that the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act was the most crucial legislation he ever sponsored. This ambitious law aims to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 85% from 1990 levels by 2050.

Englebright also successfully led a statewide ban on purse seining, a highly efficient fishing technique responsible for the depletion of menhaden, or bunker, in New York’s surrounding waters.

“The marine world all depends on having this abundant fish at the base of the food chain,” the assemblyman said. Purse seining allowed large-scale fishing operations to collect “whole schools of menhaden, millions and millions of fish.”

One of the fondest moments throughout his tenure happened just last summer. On a boat trip off the coast of Montauk Point during early morning hours, the sun rising off the horizon line, he witnessed entire schools of menhaden beneath the water.

“The sea was boiling with fish,” he said. “Menhaden, they were back by the billions.”

Reminiscent of his earliest years in libraries, historic preservation would be a significant point of emphasis for Englebright. “I’m very proud of the many properties that are preserved, the historic sites.” Such sites either preserved or to be preserved include Patriots Rock and Roe Tavern in Setauket and William Tooker House in Port Jefferson, among many others.

Even in his final days in office, Englebright made historic breakthroughs. Though his reelection bid was unsuccessful, Englebright rejoiced in yet another major victory for environmental sustainability. Last month, New Yorkers overwhelmingly approved a recent $4.2 billion environmental bond act, a multiyear investment in clean water, air, wildlife and the environment.

Reflections from his community

During his extended time in political service, Englebright has worked alongside countless public representatives at all levels of government. He maintained “they’re not all scoundrels,” adding that many were “superb public servants.”

In a series of written statements and phone interviews, several public representatives and close Englebright associates and friends had an opportunity to weigh in on his legacy of service and commitment to his community. 

Englebright “proved himself to be an environmental pioneer, a champion for the causes and concerns of his constituents and an unflinching fighter for the communities he served,” Hahn said. “For those of us who served in elected office with him during his tenure, irrespective of political persuasion or level of government, Steve proved himself to be a friend and mentor who embodied the role of effective leadership in the lives of those we represent.”

 As recently as Dec. 6, the Three Village Community Trust honored the assemblyman by renaming the Greenway trail as The Steve Englebright Setauket to Port Jefferson Station Greenway.

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant commented on the characteristics that set Englebright apart from other politicians. She said his scientific background and wide-ranging interests added depth to his political persona.

 “He’s a unique legislator in that he’s so well rounded in those other areas and that he’s not just focused on the hard line of the law,” she said. “He’s involved with his community, he’s approachable, he’s caring, he’s kind. He’s a very unique representative, and we’re going to miss him sorely.”

 Like Englebright, Port Jefferson village trustee Rebecca Kassay worked in environmental advocacy before entering government. She discussed Englebright’s ongoing extended producer responsibility legislation, which would require producers of packaging materials, rather than taxpayers, to be responsible for managing post-consumer packaging material waste.

 “This can be a step toward addressing a multitude of waste management, environmental and financial issues facing municipalities and individuals,” Kassay said. “I hope to see the assemblyman’s colleagues and successor continue advocating for policies with long-term solutions,” adding, “Englebright is the type of commonsense representative we’d like to see more of in government.”

 In a joint statement, George Hoffman and Laurie Vetere of the Setauket Harbor Task Force reflected upon Englebright’s importance to local harbors.

 “In his time as our state representative, Steve Englebright never forgot the importance of the harbor,” they said. “Assemblyman Englebright found ways to secure needed dollars from Albany to help the task force in its mission of protecting water quality and the sustainability of Setauket and Port Jefferson harbors.” 

Joan Nickeson, community liaison of the Port Jefferson Station/Terryville Chamber of Commerce, credited Englebright for the continued flourishment of her area. She said the hotel/motel tax he sponsored had enabled the chamber to conduct its annual summer concert series at the Train Car Park.

 “Assemblyman Englebright has continued to be a friend of the chamber by supporting our local businesses and attending our ribbon-cutting ceremonies,” she said.

 Within those 40 years, countless other acts and initiatives have come to fruition with Englebright’s assistance. Reflecting on his time in public service, he outlined his political doctrine.

 “The proper role of government is to protect the people who sent you,” he said. “If you keep your eye on the prize, you can achieve things for the people who invested their trust in you.” 

 On the role of the public representative, he added, “Use the office as a bully pulpit, speak truth to power, identify things that are wrong and right them, and treat the office as an opportunity to do good.”

 For wielding his office as a force of good for four decades, TBR News Media dedicates Steve Englebright as honorary 2022 Person of the Year.

From left, Setauket Harbor Task Force co-founder, Laurie Vetere, Supervisor Ed Romaine, Setauket Harbor Task Force co-founder, George Hoffman and Bay Constable Connor Reid. Photo from Town of Brookhaven

On May 25, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine joined members of the Setauket Harbor Task Force as they brought in the season’s first Sugar Kelp harvest. This season, the growing location was moved from Setauket Harbor to Port Jefferson Harbor just offshore by the northwest mooring field.

Sugar Kelp is a brown-colored native seaweed that thrives in the cold waters of the Long Island Sound and other areas of the northeast. Aquaculture farmers seed juvenile Kelp on long lines attached to buoys or docks in November and December, and then they wait until spring to harvest the fast-growing crop. Kelp is an excellent dietary source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, calcium, magnesium, iodine, and other trace minerals; it can be used dried, powdered, fresh, cooked, and fresh frozen.

Pictured left to right are Setauket Harbor Task Force co-founder, Laurie Vetere, Supervisor Ed Romaine, Setauket Harbor Task Force co-founder, George Hoffman and Bay Constable Connor Reid.

The Setauket Harbor Task Force is a volunteer organization which works for clean water and healthy harbors. It was founded in 2014 by local Setauket residents who love the harbor and want to protect and preserve it. For more information about Sugar Kelp and to learn more about the Setauket Harbor Task Force, go to www.SaveSetauketHarbor.org.

A celebration of a local harbor returned Sept. 25.

After canceling last year due to COVID-19, the Setauket Harbor Task Force was able to hold its annual Setauket Harbor Day at the Town of Brookhaven dock and beach on Shore Road in East Setauket.

The free event included boat tours of the harbor, kayaking, marine science exhibits and more.

The local nonprofit, which advocates for improving water quality and protecting and restoring marine habitats, hosts the annual event to help residents reconnect with the harbor.

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A recent photo of the pond that is now filled with sediment from road runoff from stormwater. Photo from George Hoffman

A stalled project in the Three Village community is finally moving forward.

In 2016, former state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) secured a $1 million grant for the Town of Brookhaven. The funds were for a water quality improvement at East Setauket Pond Park, which lies on the western side of Se-Port Delicatessen on Route 25A. The town is slated to add $360,000, according to the Highway Superintendent’s office.

According to Laurie Vetere, co-founder of the Setauket Harbor Task Force, the work that was supposed to begin in 2018 is finally underway. On Sept. 16, the Town of Brookhaven held a pre-bidding meeting on the site for the repair of the failing bulkhead at the Shore Road park. Bids are due to the town on Oct. 14.

The project, in addition to the reconstruction of the park’s bulkhead, will also include dredging the pond to remove sediment, removing phragmites and redesigning the stormwater conveying system, which will catch contaminated sediments and floatables before they enter the pond. Stormwater from Route 25A can wash into the pond, while the current water treatment structure is faulty and allows sediment to build up. The stormwater then goes into the harbor. Sediment can include sand that’s put down on the roads, pet waste and items that fall off of trucks and cars.

Bids for other projects will be held at a later date. The restructured stormwater conveying system would enable the sediment to go into a catch basin and then settle, allowing only the water to go into the harbor.

“It will prevent bacteria and other sediment from going into the pond and then into the harbor,” Vetere said.

She added Hurricane Ida exacerbated the problem. The task force’s main objective was “to call attention to the harbor and what needed to be done” after feeling it was being neglected.

“This was one of our first projects,” the co-founder said. “We’re all excited about it and now, five years later, it’s finally coming to fruition.”

Vetere said the goal after sediment and phragmite removal is to add some native planting that won’t obscure the pond. The hope for the future is to add more plants to the park and walkways to make it more accessible.

George Hoffman, president of the Three Village Civic Association and a harbor task force co-founder, agreed that the restoration would improve water quality. He added the work would be “the first step in revitalizing Setauket’s neglected downtown district.”

The harbor and pond is important to the history of Setauket, he said, which once was the commercial center of Setauket. He added Roe Tavern was once just a block from the harbor pond. The tavern, which was relocated to another location in East Setauket, is known for providing George Washington lodging in 1790.

“The original settlers in the mid-17th century landed at Setauket Harbor and founded a settlement that became Setauket,” he said. “The renovation of the pond and park will help us reconnect the pond to the downtown area.”

Photo by Julianne Mosher

Members from the Town of Brookhaven, the Setauket Harbor Task Force and other environmental groups headed out on two boats last week to harvest a potentially new aquatic crop — sugar kelp.

On Thursday, May 20, after a several-months-long process of preparing, planting and harvesting, volunteers joined Brookhaven bay constables out of Port Jefferson Harbor to head slightly west in retrieving the brown native seaweed that was brought to two labs for study. 

The project was spearheaded by nonprofit The Moore Family Charitable Foundation — a community involvement group that helps with projects throughout Long Island and the five boroughs.

“Our main goal for this year is to spread the word about kelp and where it grows, the conditions it needs, how to process it and how it can benefit growers on Long Island,” Wendy Moore, benefactor and manager of the sugar kelp project, previously told TBR News Media.

According to the foundation’s lead scientist David Berg, sugar kelp is known to be edible for both people and pets, it can be used as a fertilizer, bioplastic, biofuel, cosmetics and is a method to help improve water quality. 

Collaborating with the Town of Brookhaven, the Setauket Harbor Task Force, the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University and Cornell Cooperative Extension, it took a large group of different people to implement a crop that could become a big deal on Long Island.

Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) said that when he became supervisor, he immediately knew he wanted to lease out the town’s bays and harbors for projects like this. 

“Not only clams and oysters, but also for things like kelp, which is tremendous,” he said. “And seaweed. I think that we can start an industry and stimulate it to become a major industry.” 

In December, the task force dropped mooring anchors and set up the kelp growing field’s area in Setauket Harbor. In January, members attached the kelp seedlings to a line just under the surface of the water between buoys there.

George Hoffman, a trustee of the task force which helped oversee the sugar kelp cultivation and production, said partnerships like this are critical to get stuff done.

“We’re really thankful to the partnership,” he said. “Between the town and the harbor group, we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing if we didn’t have that partnership. It’s just a great example of how government works with citizens groups.”

Nestled in the water between Port Jefferson and Setauket, more than 200 pounds worth of sugar kelp was retrieved. 

Along with being a sustainable crop, sugar kelp helps take in excess nitrogen and CO2 from harbor waters, improving its chemistry. Hoffman said that excess nitrogen causes harmful algae bloom and excess CO2, resulting in ocean acidification.

“Removing nitrogen and CO2 from the waterways is absolutely critical,” Romaine added. “So, [sugar kelp] shows a lot of promise — and if you worry about methane gas, cows eat this when they feed and have 80% less gas.”

Town Councilman Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) joined on the boat, lifting up bags of kelp to weigh. He said that projects like this not only help the environment, but can also make positive changes in the private sector in the future. 

“To me this is the way that government should operate,” he said. “We make investments like this, into scientific research, or ways to develop either materials, or crops or techniques that can have a positive impact on things.”

Eventually, he said, a private sector can take over and make a business out of the crop.

“Government has a role in helping to get that started and making those investments in science,” he said.

Romaine said that Brookhaven has the largest waterfront of any town on the Island. In Port Jefferson, the area surrounding the harbor where the kelp was harvested goes back to the village’s original roots.

“We’re looking around and asking, ‘What could be the new industry for our town? What could give it life? What could be productive? How could we help nature to save clams, oysters, seaweed, kelp?’” he said. “Those industries are the future that we have to be visionary enough to support and to put the muscle of town government behind it.”

Task force member Mark Smith at Setauket Harbor installing buoys and lines in Setauket Harbor for growing sugar kelp. Photo from Setauket Harbor Task Force

By Chris Cumella

Rows of sugar kelp – a brown native seaweed — are being planted and will be harvested in Setauket Harbor, not for decoration but to provide cleaner water and other benefits to the community.

Neighboring next to Port Jefferson Harbor, the Setauket Harbor Task Force has installed two 100-foot lines with sugar kelp seedlings in hopes of cultivating them when they are ready for harvesting. There are numerous ways in which the sugar kelp can be benefited from.

This aquatic plant is edible for both people and pets. It can be used as a fertilizer, bioplastic, biofuel, cosmetics and is a method to help improve water quality.

“Our main goal for this year is to spread the word about kelp and where it grows, the conditions it needs, how to process it and how it can benefit growers on Long Island,” said Wendy Moore, benefactor and manager of the sugar kelp project.

Moore, along with her husband, Justin, founded The Moore Family Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit community involvement program.

“To that end, we’ve developed relationships with 11 growers this season,” she said.

Moore attributes her profound interest in the project to the fact that sugar kelp is self-sustaining. It is what she describes as a “low-intensity process,” which has seen nearly no obstacles other than lesser amounts of sun in the winter months. The Town of Brookhaven was one of the first to support the project and even provided equipment to the task force. There are plans to expand the project in the following years.

Even in a continuous pandemic, the project has not been swayed. According to Moore, the gear distribution and outplanting have been outdoors. Everyone on the team has been able to gather safely and follow proper COVID protocols.

“We’re lucky that much of the needed operations at this time are outdoors,” she said.

David Berg, a scientific advisor to the Moore Foundation, said that the cultivation rate would be more likely to increase after the equinox in March.

Besides Setauket and Port Jefferson Harbors, the Moore foundation has set up in other locations including Islip, Brookhaven, Greenport and Oyster Bay.

Two years ago, the Setauket Harbor Task Force began conducting water monitoring in Setauket Harbor. They set out in the spring, summer and fall seasons to take water chemistry readings and samples to document the water quality. With authorization from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the task force has been able to look at what can be done about the water and possibly cleaning it up.

“There’s oyster harvesting and clam harvesting,” said George Hoffman, a trustee of the task force which helps oversee the sugar kelp cultivation and production. “We decided to try sugar kelp harvesting, and they’re cleaning up the water by feeding on the C02 … which leads to water acidification.”

Hoffman describes his feelings about the task force being included in this pilot project as “exciting” and wants to show the public that harbors like Setauket can become productive areas for marine agriculture.

“We’re happy to have a product that will help us clean and improve the quality of the water and likewise providing beneficial food,” he said.

Cultivating the sugar kelp requires attaching the seeds to two 100-feet lines in the harbor, held together in place by mushroom anchors. When the kelp is ready to harvest, it is thick, rubbery, and a glistening shade of brown before it is processed and cleaned into a vibrant emerald green color, ready for distribution.

According to Hoffman, the harvesting sites take up roughly 200 feet of water, and he hopes to see expansion in a couple of years if this project yields successful results.

“The main thing we’re interested in doing is taking the interest that’s already here and helping Long Island along in the momentum of progressing further,” Moore said. “We want to seek out and connect with people and help get the word out about the amazing potential that it has.”