Suffolk County officials applauded a Southampton bayman for his donation of more than 500 acres of underwater lands in Peconic Bay to the county’s aquaculture leasing program.
Chuck Steidle, who has worked as a commercial shellfisherman his entire life, donated 530 acres of underwater lands that he was given title to decades ago. The land will go into the county’s increasingly popular aquaculture program, which leases out bottomlands in the bay to commercial shellfish growers who raise primarily oysters in cages anchored to the bottom of the Great Peconic.
“This donation will help expand our successful Aquaculture Lease Program in the Peconic Estuary System, which is helping people earn money while improving our water quality,” Legislator Jay Schneiderman said in a statement.
In 2009, the county began leasing out 5- and 10-acre parcels of bay bottoms in Southampton and Southold towns. Some 300 acres have been leased out thus far, with 60 additional acres being made available each year.
Mr. Steidle owns Coastal Farms, a company that transplants clams from polluted waterways around New York City and northern New Jersey and brings them to local waters to “cleanse” them of the pollutants in their meat.