Funding secured for Carmen’s River fish ladder
County Executive Steve Bellone (center) holds up the signed resolution that grants $1 million in funding to construct a fish ladder on the Carmans River in Yaphank.


Funding secured for Carmen’s River fish ladder



Suffolk County officials announced on Aug. 2 that funding was secured to finish construction of a fish ladder on the Carmans River at the Lily Lake Dam. County Executive Steve Bellone signed the resolution granting $1 million in funding for the project, which is slated to begin construction on Feb. 1, 2019.

“This is all about fulfilling our commitment to having a healthy and prosperous Carmans River,” Bellone said. “How effective we are in protecting water quality and protecting these critical resources, really is going to determine what kind of future we have here on Long Island.”

The fish ladder will allow fish the ability to swim upstream to mate, which has been hindered due to the construction of dams along the river’s path. Fish ladders are created on or around artificial barriers to facilitate the natural migration of fish, which allow alewives blueback herring, brook trout and the American eel to contribute to the growth of the species and the health of the marine environment.

Bellone was joined at a press conference on Aug. 2 by Legis. Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic), former Legis. Kate Browning (D-Shirley), councilman Michael Loguercio, members of the Yaphank Historical Society, Yaphank Civic Association, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

Carmans River runs for eight miles as freshwater, with the final two miles connecting to the Wertheim Wildlife Refuge. The river holds 12 different habitat ecosystems and flows through the southern portion of Long Island to reach the Great South Bay. Bellone said that the addition of a fish ladder came from a recommendation from the DEC as a way to allow fish to migrate. 

“I’m excited that all levels of government continue to work together for our community here in Yaphank,” Sunderman said, referencing the state, county and local government partnership. 

The project coincides with a similar initiative by the Town of Brookhaven to restore the water quality in the Yaphank Lake. Chad Trusnovec, vice president of the Yaphank Historical Society, displayed the stark contrast between the lake a few decades ago — when it had a crisp, blue watercolor and residents enjoying the scene — to now, a much darker image. 

“This is a big step toward getting back to that,” Trusnovec said, pointing to the image of blue waters.

“Providing [fish] ladders or detours around obstacles ensures greater success for survival and a healthier waterway,” added Maureen Dolan Murphy, executive programs manager for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. 

Bellone said that along with the benefits to the fish population, the ladder project will help improve the river’s infrastructure and reduce flooding.

“Water quality is critical to our economy,” Bellone said. 

The ladder will also improve the population of fish in general, allowing for the lake to be used as a fishery more often. In addition to the funding from Suffolk County, the project received a $200,000 grant from the DEC.