The New York Department of Environmental Conservation has awarded more than $275,000 in Southern Pine Beetle Community Recovery Grants to five projects in Nassau and Suffolk counties, including in Southampton and East Hampton Towns.
East Hampton Town will receive $64,000 for pine beetle management in its open spaces. Southampton Town will receive $28,050 for the removal of hazardous trees at Good Ground Park and Foster Avenue Park in Hampton Bays.
“We’re gratified to see that this money is returning to the local level to solve this problem in East Hampton and Southampton,” said State Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who worked alongside Assemblyman Steve Englebright to ensure there was adequate funding in the state budget for southern pine beetle management.
Provided through New York’s Environmental Protection Fund, these grants will assist with recovery efforts including helping communities address safety issues associated with dead trees, cutting infested trees to reduce beetle populations and replanting native Pine Barrens species.
“The invasion of the southern pine beetle represents a significant threat to one of the state’s most important ecosystems: the Central Pine Barrens,” said Mr. Thiele. “We have worked for decades to acquire more than 50,000 acres of Central Pine Barrens on Eastern Long Island. The health of this resource is critical for our water supply and our rural character.”
All of these efforts are designed to help protect and restore the Central Pine Barrens, protecting water quality, wildlife habitat, endangered species and recreational opportunities.
The southern pine beetle has killed thousands of pine trees on Long Island since it was first found here in 2014.
Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo targeted $3 million from the Environmental Protection Fund to help manage the spread of southern pine beetle on Long Island. The 2018-19 budget proposes an additional $250,000 for prescribed burns to squelch the spread of southern pine beetles.
“The cost of managing the negative impacts of the southern pine beetle is a significant hardship faced by Long Island communities,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership in providing these grants through New York’s Environmental Protection Fund, the state is offering critical assistance to alleviate the burden of removing hazard trees and helping to protect the remaining canopy and the ecological and economical services these trees provide.”
The DEC is continuing to inventory the health of the pitch pine stands and designate areas for thinning. Much like weeding a garden, thinning overcrowded and low vigor stands increases the health of the remaining trees, which are then more resilient to beetle attacks. Southern pine beetle management includes removing infested trees, thinning overcrowded pitch pine stands, and using prescribed fire to maintain healthy Pine Barrens.
More information on SPB grants is available on DEC’s website.
Additional information about the SPB Program is also available on DEC’s website.