Recycled Materials Deployed throughout State's Artificial Reef Network Already Providing New Marine Habitats, Promoting Biodiversity, and Restoring Fishery Resources
Reef Development Helps Bolster Long Island's Economy by Offering Opportunities for Tourism, Recreation, and Fishing
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the final 2019 deployments of materials to New York's 12 artificial reefs to support the state's two-year reef expansion initiative - the largest in New York State history. These deployments of materials to New York's artificial reefs mark the completion of the second year of the state's artificial reef initiative to increase fishing and recreational opportunities, develop a stronger, more diverse marine ecosystem, and provide shelter for fish and other marine life off New York's shores. On Tuesday, November 26, two former tugboats were deployed to the Twelve Mile Reef.
"New York State continues to lead the nation in restoring habitats and protecting the environment, and a key component of our efforts is restoring habitat and wildlife diversity," Governor Cuomo said. "These 12 expanded reefs, created under our unprecedented artificial reef program, are already proving how innovative ideas can support local economies and help build a healthier environment for generations to come."
Governor Cuomo's Artificial Reef Initiative, launched in 2018, deployed large volumes of cleaned, recycled, and out-of-use materials from state agencies onto reef sites, including old Tappan Zee Bridge materials, former Canal Corporation vessels, retired Canal lock miter gates and lift bridge, retired New York Power Authority turbines, and former materials from the State Department of Transportation, among other materials.
Deployments to the 12 reefs in 2018 and 2019 include:
Twelve Mile Reef
The 850-acre Twelve Mile Reef is in the Atlantic Ocean, 12 nautical miles from Moriches and Shinnecock inlets with a depth of 123-143 feet. This reef was previously undeveloped. The materials deployed in November 2019 include:
- One 100-foot tug Dauntless; and
- One 102-foot tug Relentless;
The seven-acre Yellowbar Reef is in Great South Bay, 900 yards east of the Robert Moses Fixed Bridge, with a depth of 25 to 40 feet. The reef was previously comprised of three vessels, one barge, 100 concrete reef ball units, and concrete pipes. NYPA/Canal Corporation materials deployed in October 2019 include:
- Four 20-foot pontoons.
The 10-acre Kismet Reef is inGreat South Bay, 120 yards north of the South Beach, between Kismet and the National Seashore dock, with a depth of 16-25 feet. The reef was previously comprised of two barges, concrete blocks, concrete slabs, culvert, and rubble. DOT materials deployed in October 2019 include:
- Nineteen 20-foot concrete barriers.
The 115-acre McAllister Reef is located 2.8 nautical miles south of Long Beach with a depth of 50-53 feet. This reef was previously comprised of three vessels, four barges, rock, and concrete bridge rubble. New materials deployed to the McAllister Reef were provided by DOT and NYPA/Canal Corporation. DOT materials deployed in September 2019 include:
- Thirty-five 20-foot concrete barriers.
NYPA/Canal Corporation materials deployed in November 2019 include:
- Seven pieces of a 100-foot scow;
- Two 26-foot miter gates;
- Three 30-foot dam gates; and
- One 18-foot steel runner.
Atlantic Beach Reef
The 413-acre Atlantic Beach Reef is located three nautical miles south of Atlantic Beach with a depth of 55-64 feet. One of the first reefs created in New York State, this reef was previously comprised of two vessels, nine barges, surplus armored vehicles, 404 auto bodies, 10 Good Humor trucks, steel crane and boom, rock, concrete slabs, pipes, culvert, decking, and rubble. Materials deployed in 2019 to the Atlantic Beach Reef were provided by DOT, NYPA/Canal Corporation, and National Grid. DOT, NYPA/Canal Corporation, and National Grid out-of-use materials deployed September-November 2019 include:
- Thirty-five 20-foot concrete barriers;
- Twenty steel girders with concrete tops from the Staten Island Expressway;
- Fifteen 5-40-foot steel pipes from the Kosciuszko Bridge;
- One 75-foot scow;
- Eight 20-foot pontoons;
- Twenty-six 10-14-foot lake buoys;
- Four pieces of a 100-foot scow;
- One anchor;
- One navigational buoy; and
- One steel turbine and steel turbine shells.
Matinecock Reef is a 41-acre site located in the Long Island Sound, 0.5 nautical miles north of Peacock Point in Nassau County. NYPA/Canal Corporation materials deployed in August 2019 include:
- Seven 20-foot steel pontoons and one 46-foot scow.
Fire Island Reef
The 744-acre reef is located two nautical miles from shore with a depth of 62-73 feet.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers material deployed in August 2019 include:
- The retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers steel vessel M/V HUDSON. Built in 1963, the M/V HUDSON served in many rescue efforts during its time at sea and measures nearly 53 feet in length and weighs 19 tons.
DOT's Staten Island Expressway, Kew Gardens bridge in Queens, and Kosciuszko bridge sections, and NYPA/Canal Corporation material deployed in August 2019 include:
- Steel bridge girders 20 to 60 feet long;
- Steel pipe ranging in size from 20 to 40 feet long;
- Steel sign structure 50 feet long;
- Ten steel lifting tower pieces 10 to 15 feet long;
- One 30 ft. tainter gate;
- Lift bridge sections up to 34ft;
- 33 ft. miter gates; and
- Six 20 ft. steel pontoons.
DOT, NYPA/Canal Corporation, and Thruway Authority material deployed to the Fire Island Reef in August-October 2018 includes:
- 4,700 tons of jetty stone and 1,260 cubic yards of recycled Tappan Zee Bridge concrete road decking, pipe piles and substructure pieces;
- One 110'x29' steel Air Force flat scow;
- One 38' x 20' steel piano flat scow;
- One 100'x29' steel dump scow #24; and
- Twenty-eight road deck panels, concrete substructure, and pipe piles from the Tappan Zee Bridge.
The 744-acre reef is located 3.3 nautical miles from shore with a depth of 50-72 feet.
- 4.5 million pounds of material from the old Mill Basin Drawbridge, including the former drawbridge's gatehouse building, Pier 7, bridge support concrete, other decommissioned drawbridge buildings, and concrete barriers.
New York City DOT and the Tutor-Perini Corporation material deployed in December 2018 includes:
- Forty-seven concrete-filled steel caissons measuring up to 34 feet in length that once supported the original City Island Bridge.
Thruway Authority material deployed in October 2018 includes:
- Tappan Zee Bridge materials deployed include concrete road deck panels, concrete substructure (columns and caps) and concrete pipe piles.
DOT, NYPA/Canal Corporation, and the Thruway Authority material deployed in August 2018 includes:
- Two decommissioned Erie Canal vessels at 115 and 75 feet respectively;
- Two large New York Power Authority turbine runners totaling 140 tons;
- Four DOT bridge trusses; and
- Former Tappan Zee Bridge material consisting of concrete decking, bridge supports and pipe piles.
DOT, NYPA/Canal Corporation, and the Thruway Authority material deployed in April 2018 includes:
- Twelve barges of Tappan Zee Bridge material; and
- Eleven Canal vessels.
Moriches Reef is a 14-acre site located in the Atlantic Ocean 2.4 nautical miles south of Moriches Inlet. DOT, NYPA/Canal Corporation, and the Thruway Authority materials deployed in August 2018 and October 2018 include:
- One 25'x20' steel pump boat;
- 50'x20' steel self-propelled scow #56;
- Twelve steel bridge I-beams;
- Two barges of Tappan Zee Bridge material; and
- Two Canal vessels.
The 413-acre reef is located 1.6 nautical miles from shore with a depth of 32-40 feet. DOT, NYPA/Canal Corporation, and the Thruway Authority material deployed in July and October 2018 includes:
- Tappan Zee Bridge material in the form of concrete 1,412 cubic yards of 48-inch concrete pipe pilings, exo-deck panels, pipes, and concrete substructure; and
- One 100'x29' Dump Scow.
Smithtown Reef is a three-acre site located 1.6 nautical miles northwest of the Stony Brook Harbor entrance in Long Island Sound, with depths up to 40 feet.
DOT and NYPA/Canal Corporation materials deployed in July 2018 include:
- Two 40-foot decommissioned Erie Canal vessels; and
- Seventy-five tons of recycled materials from deconstructed State DOT projects.
Shinnecock Reef is a 35-acre site located two nautical miles from shore with a depth of 79-84 feet. DOT and NYPA/Canal Corporation materials deployed in May 2018 include:
- More than 1,093 tons of materials. Barges dropped 885 tons of clean, recycled Tappan Zee Bridge material, as well as deconstructed DOT project materials;
- Thirty-five tons of triangular trusses;
- One hundred tons of concrete deck panels;
- Seven hundred and fifty tons of steel foundation pipes;
- Six tons of steel lattice trusses;
- 13.1 tons of pieces of steel sheeting;
- 37 tons of steel beams;
- 13.8 tons of steel columns;
- 9.4 tons of steel girders;
- 0.9 tons of steel channels;
- 128 tons of steel pipes;
- Three decommissioned Canal boats, including a 110-foot barge, 74-foot tugboat, and 40-foot tender.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) manages the state's 12 artificial reefs, which include two reefs in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay, and eight in the Atlantic Ocean.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Governor Cuomo's pioneering approach to expand New York's network of artificial reefs is creating healthier, more vibrant and diverse aquatic ecosystems while supporting the economies of New York's coastal communities. I commend all of the state agencies and DEC's Marine Resources experts for their work in this ongoing, historic reef expansion effort, which is already providing more opportunities for anglers, divers, and the marine environment."
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "Governor Cuomo is leading the way on the wise reuse of surplus materials, including transportation materials, to benefit the environment and the state's fisheries. The State Department of Transportation is proud to work with our sister agencies on this important program, expanding artificial reefs and supporting biodiversity, fishing and tourism."
NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones said, "Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, we, at NYPA, are pleased to find a second use for our outdated, out-of-use equipment and infrastructure that brings new life to our shorelines. We look forward to seeing the economic and environmental benefits of the Governor's reefing program come alive in the years to come and are glad to be a part of it."
New York State Canal Corporation Director Brian U. Stratton said, "As we continue to update the infrastructure and critical components that keep our Canal System running safely, the vessels and equipment that are replaced can be put to good use yet again. Governor Cuomo's artificial reef project is having a positive effect in attracting new marine life, and the Canal Corporation is happy to contribute to their expansion."
Senator Todd Kaminsky, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "This sustained investment into expanding Long Island's artificial reef is essential to fostering the growth of our local aquatic life and boosting the local economy. I thank Governor Cuomo, the Department of Environmental Conservation, and my colleagues in State government for their work on the expansion of these artificial reefs."
Assemblymember Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "Expanding the reef program will provide tremendous new opportunities for anglers and divers alike. The artificial reef program has always been popular and I am delighted that it is being revitalized by Governor Cuomo."
Monitoring surveys conducted by DEC's Artificial Reef Program have documented an increase in angler activity on the reef sites since the initiative started in 2018. A survey completed in August 2018 documented an all-time high vessel count on the reef sites of 369 vessels in a single day, nearly twice the prior daily high vessel count. In addition, an increased number of divers have been visiting the artificial reefs exploring newly added retired Canal Corporation vessels and Tappan Zee Bridge materials.
Construction of New York's first artificial reef dates back to 1949, and this latest initiative marks the State's first coordinated effort to stimulate the full environmental and economic benefits of artificial reefs. Materials used for the reef expansion are being strategically placed and built out of hard, durable structures such as rock, concrete and steel pipes, and usually in the form of surplus or scrap materials that are cleaned of contaminants to mitigate potential impacts to sea life before being recycled on the reef sites. Once materials and vessels settle to the sea floor, larger fish, such as blackfish, black seabass, cod and summer flounder, move in to build habitats within the new structures, and encrusting organisms such as barnacles, sponges, anemones, corals and mussels cling to and cover the material. Over time, these recycled structures will create a habitat like a natural reef.
New York's marine resources are critical to the state's economy, supporting nearly 350,000 jobs and generating billions of dollars through tourism, fishing and other industries. More than 500,000 anglers in the region will reap the benefits of this initiative, supporting the region's growing marine economy, which accounts for approximately 9.7 percent of Long Island's total GDP.
New York's Artificial Reef Program is just one example of the Governor's commitment to restoring marine ecosystems and economy. Coupled with the nation's largest offshore wind agreement, record investments in the Environmental Protection Fund and Clean Water Infrastructure Act, a ban on offshore drilling, passage of the 'bunker bill' to prohibit the use of purse seines to protect this keystone species, continued progress on the Long Island Shellfish Restoration initiative, and many other programs to protect and improve water quality, the Governor's efforts are realizing a cleaner and healthier marine environment for all New Yorkers.
In addition, in September, Governor Cuomo announced that in next year's State of the State address, he will introduce an aggressive nation-leading habitat restoration initiative, "Revive Mother Nature." Revive Mother Nature will support critical environmental restoration efforts, like the artificial reef deployments announced today, to help make communities more resilient in the face of climate change and severe weather, while also restoring and increasing fish and wildlife habitat.
Artificial reef construction is part of Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. Visit DEC's website for more information about the Artificial Reef Program.