ALBANY, N.Y. (WENY) -- Governor Cuomo launched the second year of the largest artificial reef expansion in New York State history, as part of the state's ongoing initiative to develop a stronger, more diverse marine ecosystem.

The governor deployed recycled materials at Fire Island Reef from the Staten Island Expressway, Kew Gardens and Kosciuszco bridges, Erie Canal, and retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers steel vessel M/V HUDSON.

"New York State is doing more than any state in the United States when it comes to climate change and protecting the environment," Governor Cuomo said. "Reefs are great for the environment and the economy, and the new reefs created under our comprehensive artificial reef program are already incredibly successful."

The deployment adds to Governor Cuomo's Artificial Reef Initiative, in which an unprecedented effort is deploying large volumes of recycled materials that have been cleaned of contaminants from the New York State Thruway Authority (old Tappan Zee Bridge materials), NYPA/Canal Corporation (Erie Canal vessels and two turbines), DOT (steel trusses, pipes and rock) and New York City Department of Transportation (parts of the City Island Bridge) onto New York Reef sites in 2018. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) artificial reef program, which manages the state's 12 artificial reefs (two reefs in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay and eight in the Atlantic Ocean) also deployed a pier, bridge support concrete and concrete barriers from the decommissioned Mill Basin Drawbridge to Hempstead reef in January and February 2019. 

In 2018, materials were deployed to the Hempstead, Moriches, Rockaway, Shinnecock, Smithtown, and Fire Island artificial reefs. Marine biologists have documented the rapid colonization of life in those locations. State University of Stony Brook Southampton Professor Brad Peterson is conducting underwater growth research on the newly developed reef material on Shinnecock Reef, in an effort to further advance the science behind these efforts and understanding of reefs and the benefits they provide to the ecosystem.