Pictured Above: Peconic Baykeeper Director of Outreach Alexa Annunziata and Baykeeper Pete Topping install a station at the New Suffolk Waterfront

If you happen to wander along the coastline alongside the Peconic Estuary this summer, you may stumble upon a wooden post with a cradle for your cell phone urging you to snap a quick photo of the coast and email it to a website called chronolog.

That photo will then be sent to a repository building a record of the changes to our coastline over time.

Project R.I.S.E. (Recording Inundation Surrounding the Estuary) is organized by the Peconic Baykeeper, with grant funding from the Peconic Estuary Partnership in partnership with nine different site partners who manage 15 different sites of environmental and social significance around the estuary.

“Climate change and sea level rise should be a major topic of concern for all East End residents and especially those who live and near our shorelines,” said Pete Topping, Baykeeper & Executive Director of Peconic Baykeeper. “We see these changes happening regularly with increased flooding, extreme weather events, and erosion, but this can be a difficult concept for our seasonal residents and developers to embrace. We hope that this project will better illustrate some of these ongoing changes for our community members and its leaders so that we can proactively make the tough choices we need to in order to adapt before it’s too late.” 

The New York State Community Risk and Resiliency Act estimates the sea level rise on Long Island through the 2050s will be between 8 and 30 inches, which could be exacerbated by more coastal development and shoreline hardening.

The Project R.I.S.E. photo stations are spread throughout the twin forks, from Montauk Inlet to Broad Cove in Aquebogue to Edwards Farm Preserve in Orient, along with two locations in Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island. You can find them by visiting chronolog.io/map, where you can also view a time-lapse series of photos that have been taken at the station.

The stations are on sites managed by East End towns, Suffolk County Parks and non-profits including the Peconic Land Trust, the Southampton History Museum, the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund and The Nature Conservancy.

“These stations highlight some of the most beautiful publicly accessible places remaining in the Peconic Estuary with sites from Montauk to Orient and even Shelter Island. Anyone taking the time to visit all of these sites would gain valuable insight into the ecological diversity that the Peconic Estuary offers.” said Mr. Topping. “This could be a great long-term project for students in schools around the area to get involved in.

New Suffolk Waterfront Fund Board Member Sue Braatz, Peconic Baykeeper Director of Outreach Alexa Annunziata and Baykeeper Pete Topping after installing a station at the New Suffolk Waterfront

We caught up with Mr. Topping and Peconic Baykeeper Director of Outreach Alexa Annunziata at the New Suffolk Waterfront May 10, where they were installing a Chronolog station at the New Suffolk Waterfront with Sue Braatz, who serves on the non-profit Waterfront Fund board.

They were working to find the perfect angle to view a section of the coastline known as “Submarine Beach,” which was the U.S. Navy’s first submarine testing grounds in the early 20th Century.

Mr. Topping said he hopes the project will help the community start to see the trends in how the East End’s coastline is changing over time.

“Are salt marshes able to adapt and migrate shoreward?” he asked. “Ive certainly noticed changes in the last five years.”

He said the sites are a “combination of natural areas, and ares with more development,” with a focus on places that many people visit and know, throughout the estuary.

Ms. Annunziata added that she would like to see school classes get involved with the project. One site, at Landing Lane on Accabonac Harbor, is within walking distance of the Springs School.

“It’s very compatible with our mission, which includes education,” said Ms. Braatz.

For more information on the project, visit peconicbaykeeper.org/programs/project-r-i-s-e/

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Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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