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DEC and Peconic Land Trust announce second preservation of Pine Barrens land critical to protect Long Island’s sole source aquifer

June 28, 2019

Brookhaven Property Acquisition is Latest to be Approved to Use DEC Source Water Protection Grants

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Peconic Land Trust today announced the preservation of a second parcel in the Central Pine Barrens Core. The acquisition of this property will help protect Long Island’s groundwater. The parcel, located in the Town of Brookhaven, is the second on Long Island to be approved and purchased with funding from DEC’s Water Quality Improvement Project (WQIP) grants that specifically target the protection of source waters.

“New York State has made protecting Long Island’s drinking water a top priority, and by working with partners like the Peconic Land Trust and investing record resources to achieve our goals, we are making a real difference in improving water quality,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “The permanent conservation of this Brookhaven property builds upon the progress being made and will be integral to the health of the Peconic River, the region’s water supply, and the ecologically significant Pine Barrens now and well into the future.”


John v.H. Halsey, President of the Peconic Land Trust, said, “The DEC’s Water Quality Improvement Project grants are a tremendous resource to assist land trusts and communities in the protection of our local drinking water resources. We are so pleased to be able to announce the second project under this grant with the DEC and the Town of Brookhaven. Our sincere thanks go to the landowner, IGHL (Independent Group Home Living Program), for choosing conservation for this property. We also extend our appreciation to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York State Senate and Assembly, and the staff of the DEC for making this funding available; and to the Town of Brookhaven and the Peconic Estuary Program for partnering with us. We look forward to announcing additional conservation efforts in Brookhaven later this year.”

Funding for the project comes from a $2.3 million DEC grant awarded to the Peconic Land Trust in 2017 for the implementation of a Regional Aquifer Protection Land Acquisition Program (RAPLAP). The Trust paid $150,000 for the 4.1-acre woodland and grassland parcel on North Road (River Road) in Manorville. The Town of Brookhaven identified the property as a priority for conservation because of its location in the Central Pine Barrens Core and its proximity to other protected lands in the area, including Peconic River Park.

The Trust proposes to maintain the property for passive recreational uses such as hiking and birdwatching. There will be no interior parking. Potential improvements would be limited to a foot trail, placement of trail markers, and a trailhead kiosk.

New York’s Water Quality Improvement Program (WQIP)
Governor Cuomo has recently increased investments for clean water infrastructure projects across the state to $3 billion, which includes the WQIP program. Along with support from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, this competitive reimbursement grant program funds projects to improve water quality, reduce the potential for harmful algal blooms, and protect drinking water across the state. WQIP grants are awarded for municipal wastewater treatment; nonagricultural nonpoint source abatement and control; salt storage; aquatic habitat restoration; municipal separate storm sewer systems; and land acquisition projects for source water protection.


To date the DEC has announced more than $28 million for 26 land acquisition projects being awarded through the WQIP grant program. Two rounds of WQIP grants specifically for land acquisition have already been made and a third round of grants will be awarded following an application period that closes on July 26, 2019. For more information about the WQIP grant program, please visit DEC’s website.

The Regional Aquifer Protection Land Acquisition Program
On Long Island, where 100 percent of the drinking water for 2.8 million residents comes from underground aquifers, protecting the land through which water filters is critically important. It costs up to 10 times more to produce clean drinking water from wells where surrounding lands are heavily developed than from wells in the Pine Barrens where the land is protected.

Peconic Land Trust’s 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. The Trust received $2.3 million from DEC to work with the Town of Brookhaven to identify and acquire properties to further protect drinking water sources. Funding for this project allows properties to be protected in and near the Special Groundwater Protection Areas within the Peconic Estuary and Forge River Watersheds and the South Shore Estuary Reserve.

The Peconic Land Trust is partnering with Peconic Estuary Program to pool resources and expertise to identify and acquire land or development rights on parcels that meet source water protection criteria. The $2.3 million from DEC will provide 75 percent of acquisition costs and the remaining 25 percent is matched with other public and/or private funds. The Trust was awarded an additional $3 million by DEC in December 2018 for Phase II to assist the Towns of Shelter Island, Southold and Riverhead. For more information, visit the Trust’s website.

“The Peconic Estuary, with the Pine Barrens standing as the guardians to its headwaters, relies on innovation and collaboration to successfully protect our valuable ground and surface waters. The Peconic Land Trust has again served as one of the most successful stewards on Eastern Long Island with the purchase of this latest installment of the RAPLAP. We are grateful to Peconic Land Trust for their partnership and continued commitment to land and water protection and to New York State DEC for their sustained vision and dedication of resources to make this possible,” said Joyce Novak, Director of the Peconic Estuary Program.

“The future of the Peconic River was made a little bit more secure with the acquisition of this parcel,” said John Turner, a land management specialist with the Town of Brookhaven and a longtime Pine Barrens Protection advocate. “Not only will the purchase have ecological value by protecting trees and wildlife on site and help safeguard the ecological integrity of a complex of properties previously preserved in close proximity to the parcel, it will help maintain high water quality in the river as the property will transmit approximately 6,400 gallons of pure water each and every day to the groundwater system that feeds the river. Congratulations to the Peconic Land Trust on completing this important project.”

About the Peconic Land Trust

Founded in 1983, Peconic Land Trust conserves Long Island’s working farms, natural lands, and heritage. Since its inception, the nonprofit Trust has worked conscientiously with landowners, communities, municipalities, partner organizations, and donors, to conserve over 12,000 acres of land on Long Island. The Trust’s professional staff carries out the necessary research and planning to identify and implement alternatives to outright development. While working to conserve the productive farms, watersheds, woodlands, and beachfront of Long Island, the Trust is also protecting the unique rural heritage and natural resources of the region. For more information about the Peconic Land Trust, visit peconiclandtrust.org.


DEC Contact:

Aphrodite Montalvo | (631) 444-0249

Aphrodite.Montalvo@dec.ny.gov

Bill Fonda | (631) 444-0350

Bill.Fonda@dec.ny.gov


Peconic Land Trust Contact:

Yvette DeBow Salsedo | (631) 283-3195 ext. 12

ydebow@Peconiclandtrust.org

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