Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York will acquire and preserve 99 acres of sensitive land in the heart of Long Island's Carmans River Watershed.
The land is one of the largest remaining privately-owned tracts in the Core Preservation Area of Long Island's Central Pine Barrens. The property is mostly surrounded by land already in public ownership and preservation advocates have called the parcel an essential piece of the Pine Barrens. This area is afforded special protection under the New York State Environmental Conservation Law because it overlays the purest drinking water aquifer on Long Island.
"Long Island's Pine Barrens Region is not only a beautiful natural resource but also an important source of clean drinking water for New Yorkers, and it is our responsibility to protect it," said Governor Cuomo. "This land acquisition will allow us to better preserve the Pine Barrens and the Carmans River Watershed for generations to come. It is fitting that this acquisition is occurring in conjunction with Earth Day, when we are reminded of an old but profound proverb: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."
State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens said, "Earth Day is a great time to remember that successful efforts to protect our environment often involve working partnerships between different levels of government and organizations whose mission it is to advance important initiatives to safeguard natural resources. The preservation of this land will add to protected areas of the Pine Barrens Core while helping to safeguard the Carmans River."
The property is located on the north side of East Bartlett Road in the hamlet of Middle Island in the Town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County. The land will be used for passive recreation, such as hiking and nature appreciation. A trail system runs throughout the property that can be linked to adjoining Suffolk County lands. The southeastern part of the property contains freshwater wetlands.
As one of the last undeveloped parcels in the Pine Barrens Core, the acquisition of this land was a priority under both the New York State Open Space Conservation Plan and the Carmans River Watershed Protection and Management Plan. In accordance with the principles outlined in the state's Open Space Conservation Plan, the land is being purchased from a willing buyer -- Gene's Four Seasons Landscaping and Nursery, Inc. -- and will be paid for with the state's Environmental Protection Fund's Land Acquisition Fund.
Senator Kenneth P. LaValle said, "I have long been active in and supportive of the preservation of core lands here in Suffolk County. Governor Cuomo's action today underscores a commitment to our children and grandchildren that we will preserve Long Island's valuable natural resources so that they can be enjoyed for decades to come."
Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney said, "I am delighted that Governor Cuomo made reaching this agreement possible so the purchase of this special property within the core Pine Barrens corridor could be completed. Protecting the Pine Barrens is critically important to maintaining the high quality of Suffolk County drinking water. The New York State Environmental Protection Fund is financing this acquisition. Since its inception in 1993, the EPF has provided more than $1 billion for environmental projects in communities throughout the State."
Assemblyman Steven Englebright said, "Because of its size and location this acquisition is important to the ecology of the Pine Barrens Core. It is equally vital to the operational effectiveness and ongoing credibility of the landmark Pine Barrens Protection Act. The ancient Pine Barrens forest that this parcel is a part of is the oldest terrestrial ecosystem in our state but its acquisition is the newest achievement in our quest to protect our purest groundwater. I am especially pleased that Governor Cuomo made this happen against the backdrop of the most difficult budget cycle in the state's history."
Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko said, "I want to thank Governor Cuomo for this monumental acquisition, a vital piece of open space in the Carmans River Watershed, that is a cause for celebration on Earth Day. The DEC has been very supportive of the Town's efforts to protect the Carmans River Watershed and has played an integral role on the Carmans River Study Group. The Carmans River Study Group recommended the Gene's Four Seasons Property as a priority for acquisition, and thanks to the Governor's support we are able to cross that off of our list."
Executive Director Long Island Pine Barrens Society Richard Amper said, "We've been working for years for preservation of this key Pine Barrens parcel in the Carmans River watershed. Our thanks to Governor Cuomo for cutting through the red tape and getting this done for the people of Long Island."
Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment Adrienne Esposito said, "Earth Day was intended to inspire appreciation and awareness of our natural environment. It was created for us to act collectively in preserving our rivers, lakes, estuaries, lands and air. Preserving a special parcel of land along the Carmans River is the perfect way to advance these critical goals and to honor the true intent of Earth Day. CCE applauds Governor Cuomo for this critical land purchase and helping Long Island hold on to our natural assets."
Environmental Defense Fund Senior Counsel Jim Tripp said, "Governor Cuomo's support for the acquisition of the 99-acre Gene's Four Seasons parcel by New York State provides critical momentum to on-going efforts to assure permanent preservation of Pine Barrens core area forests. It will also add credibility to the Town of Brookhaven's initiative to expand the core area in the Carmans River watershed with acquisition as well as the Pine Barrens Credit playing important, complementary roles in facilitating property owner equity."
Director of Public Lands for The Nature Conservancy Kevin McDonald said, "What a happy Earth Day for Long Island! The Nature Conservancy applauds this important preservation effort. This 90-plus acre Pine Barrens parcel lies within the Carmans River watershed which drains into the Great South Bay. Protecting this parcel realizes three worthy objectives in one: protecting ground water, the Carmans River and the Great South Bay. Our deep appreciation and thanks are extended to Governor Cuomo for securing funds from the State's Environmental Protection Fund to make this land preservation effort happen."
Long Island Builders Institute Chief Executive Officer Mitchell H. Pally said, "The purchase of this property is a great example of the ability of all involved to protect our very precious environment in this area. We applaud Governor Cuomo for recognizing the importance of conservation partnerships that protect natural resources and the local economy."