The Peconic Riverfront Park has white perch and catfish, carp and eels, largemouth bass and chain pickerel. A number of species of birds live in the woods and fields, old cranberry bogs and marshes, including Canada geese, coots, mallards, grebes, web-tailed hawks, and large, sometimes ferocious mute swans. There are deer hiding in the bushes, turtles basking on the rocks, and near the headwaters, you can spot mink, raccoon, red fox, woodcock, and ruffled grouse.
In addition to its length of fifteen miles, this Peconic Riverfront Park is one of the prettiest and ecologically one of the most diverse rivers in Riverhead, NY, as it leaves the fresh springs of Calverton to the salty Flanders Bay at Riverhead. It may be difficult to think of anything more enjoyable than canoeing its waters on a clear day.
Governor Cuomo signed a bill that allows the State Department of Environmental Conservation to list the Peconic as a scenic river under the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers Act. The Peconic Riverfront Park will be protected by a moratorium on development along its shores, thanks to a bill sponsored by Republican Joseph Sawicki Jr. of Southold.
The Carmans, Connetquot, and Nissequogue rivers were also designated earlier as important rivers on Long Island. This small island is still primarily rural, with the Peconic as its core. Residents of the surrounding area view it as part of their history – a point of reference. They have protected it even without laws. Now that help has arrived, they are relieved.
Located just west of Peconic Avenue in Grangebel Park, the Peconic runs right through Riverhead, and its small pond and lake have been landmarks since the town was founded in 1792. A weeping willow, a stately maple, and a majestic dogwood shade the waters. Lily pads float in the shallows.
Peaconnuck or Peaconeck were often called Peconic by the natives of the region. They apparently meant ”little place” to them. Southampton, Brookhaven, and Riverhead all share this boundary.
As the waters pour over the 200-year-old dam built in Riverhead, the saltwater estuary becomes a saltwater area subject to tidal action. The river remains fresh until the water overflows. The overall quality of the river is very good, even though there are some significant wastewater discharges. It is the tannic acid in the vegetation that causes the water’s tea color – not pollution.
Around a mile downstream, there is a large steel culvert that passes through wide Peconic Lake, where once there were cranberry farms. Suffolk County produced cranberries in excess of 27 million bushels a year during its heyday. Brownsbog Inc. is engraved on a dam to commemorate those times.
We proceed along with a series of portages and winding channels that give access to a number of ponds, some of which are surrounded by open fields and others with cedars, maples, and willows. Houses and remains of docks and sheds can be found here and there. In the cedar swamp, you’ll see white-spotted orchards, a flock of red-winged blackbirds in the air, and a massive snapping turtle cruising along the shore. There is a pine barren forest stretching to the horizon in the south. The Peconic has a variety of natural landscapes.
Next – Long Island Aquarium