The Peconic Estuary Program’s rain garden and native plant rebate program, begun last year in the Hashamomuck Pond watershed between Southold and Greenport and the Reeves Bay watershed in Flanders, is now open to everyone in the Peconic Estuary watershed on the East End.
Last year, PEP received a grant of $150,000 to give out to homeowners who install native plantings, rain gardens and rain barrels, with a maximum rebate of $500 per person.
Less than a dozen of the 1,800 people who were eligible for the pilot program last year took advantage of it.
This year, the Peconic Estuary Program is working with Cornell Cooperative Extension to get the word out to homeowners throughout the Peconic Estuary watershed.
Sherryll Jones of Cornell Cooperative Extension, who serves as the education and outreach coordinator for the Peconic Estuary Program, said this week that most homeowners who live south of Route 25 on the North Fork and north of Route 27 on the South Fork are eligible.
A map of the boundaries of the Peconic Estuary watershed is online here.
“We want to throw a net out there and see what we get,” she said. “It’s just been a few weeks of the campaign and we’ve already had a bunch of requests for information.”
Ms. Jones said the low response last year could have been due in part to the fact that participants have to lay out the money for the projects before they are reimbursed, and may have been overwhelmed by the paperwork involved in the application.
She said the Peconic Estuary Program is exploring partnerships with landscape contractors this year to apply for the rebates and design the native plant and rain gardens.
They are also revamping the application to make it more user-friendly.
The program provides up to $250 to people who replace 50 square feet of pavement, turf grass or lawn with native plants, up to $250 to people who install a rain garden of at least 50 square feet, using guidelines available here and up to $100 to people who install a rain barrel at least 50 gallons big, based on guidelines available here. Each homeowner can apply for up to $500 in rewards.
The Peconic Estuary program is holding a series of public information sessions on the rebates at libraries all over the East End, beginning this weekend.
The first session will be held at the Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport, this Saturday, March 14 at 3 p.m. The second session will be held on Sunday, March 22 at 2 p.m. at the Riverhead Free Library. The third session will be held at 1 p.m. March 28 at the Cutchogue-New Suffolk Library and the fourth forum will be held on April 4 at the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor at 10:30 a.m.