Preservation of Land in Moriches Critical to Long Island’s Sole Source Aquifer

March 17, 2021

More good news for water quality along the Forge River. The Trust worked with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Town of Brookhaven to preserve 13.2 acres in the hamlet of Moriches. This is the fourth parcel on Long Island to be purchased with funding from DEC’s Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) grants. WQIP grants specifically target the protection of source waters.

The acquisition, near the headwaters of the Forge River, closed at the end of January. This property will help protect Long Island’s groundwater, the sole drinking water source for millions of residents.

Remarking on the recent acquisition, John v. H. Halsey, President of the Peconic Land Trust, said, “The Trust is pleased to work with the DEC and the Town of Brookhaven to protect our important groundwater resources. This is the third preservation of land in the town of Brookhaven that will contribute to the health and well-being of Brookhaven residents…We look forward to announcing additional conservation efforts in Brookhaven later this year.”

Funding for the acquisition comes from a $2.3 million DEC grant awarded in December 2017 to the Peconic Land Trust for implementation of a Regional Aquifer Protection Land Acquisition Program (RAPLAP). RAPLAP is a multi-year program using WQIP funding to acquire land or development rights for surface water quality, groundwater recharge areas, and drinking water protection. Since 2017, the DEC has awarded the Trust nearly $9 million from WQIP through three separate rounds of funding. In this matching grant program, the DEC provides up to 75% of acquisition costs and the remaining amount, at least 25%, is matched by other public and/or private funds.

This property was identified by the Town of Brookhaven as a priority for conservation because of its location adjacent to other protected Suffolk County land, town conservation easement land, and its proximity to land owned by the Suffolk County Water Authority. Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romine said, “By preserving this property as open space, we have taken a giant leap forward to improve the water quality of the Forge River and our environmentally sensitive aquifer.”


Individuals L-R: Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, Hal Nevins, III (former landowner), Kim Quarty (Director of Conservation Planning, Peconic Land Trust), Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico, Josh Halsey (Conservation Policy Coordinator, Peconic Land Trust)

In addition to protecting Long Island’s drinking water source, the newly protected land will be used for passive recreation, like hiking and birdwatching. Potential improvements may include a foot trail, placement of trail markers, and a trailhead kiosk.

“The preservation of property today will pay dividends in the future, for our environment and for the community,” Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico said. “We are grateful to our partners who made this acquisition possible and will continue our efforts into the future. This latest acquisition adds to the extensive acreage we have already preserved and is ecologically sensitive.”

View the full press release here and coverage from Newsday.

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