The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office will now be fielding and responding to calls on the 1.877.BARRENS phone line, allowing residents to report illegal activities that threaten the 105,000-acre Central Pine Barrens region of Suffolk County.
“Suffolk residents can use 1.877.BARRENS to report any illegal activity that threatens the Central Pine Barrens region, including dumping, vandalism and off-road vehicle use,” said John Pavacic, executive director of the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission. “It’s a vital tool to protect the land Suffolk residents invested tax dollars to preserve, and we commend the Sheriff’s office for assuming the responsibility.”
The Central Pine Barrens Commission created the toll-free 1.877.BARRENS phone line more than a decade ago and arranged with a local agency to administer the line, which allowed residents to report non-emergency situations within the Central Pine Barrens to dispatchers 24 hours a day. Complaints were routed to the appropriate law enforcement agency depending on the nature and location of the call.
A reduction in dispatcher services diminished the phone line’s effectiveness, and in recent years, the hotline has no longer been available on a 24/7 basis.
In June of 2014, the Central Pine Barrens Commission approved a resolution asking the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office to assume primary law enforcement duties in the Central Pine Barrens, and the 1.877.BARRENS line was transferred to the Sheriff’s office, which has 24-hour dispatch coverage.
According to Mr. Pavacic, off-road vehicles such as ATVs, can cause extensive damage to the environmentally sensitive region, scaring wildlife, destroying plants and nature trails, ruining soils and increasing the risk of wildfires.
The dumping of garbage, junk cars and yard waste, in addition to blighting the landscape, can introduce threatening, non-native species to the pine barrens ecosystem.
The Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission was established by the New York State Legislature to protect and preserve drinking water and other natural resources in the Central Pine Barrens region.