Have you ever wondered how your donation benefits our non-profit organization? Let’s take a look at the important projects your contribution helps fund.
Preserving Our Pine Barrens
Since our founding in 1977, our Society has fought tirelessly to protect over 106,000 acres of land that make up the Central Pine Barrens. Throughout our history, we have effectively advocated for the land our organization is named for in state and local governments as well as in the courts. Our efforts have not stopped, and we continue to work hard to protect our Pine Barrens from destruction and safeguard this globally rare ecosystem for future generations of Long Islanders.
With your support, we are able to monitor any and all proposed development plans in the Pine Barrens and ensure they adhere to the Pine Barrens Protection Act and the Central Pine Barrens Commission’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan. In addition to making sure there is no new development within the Core Preservation Area of the Pine Barrens, we review and investigate new proposals targeted for the Compatible Growth Area and determine if they would be environmentally compatible. We then present our findings to the appropriate town and county oversight agencies, such as the Central Pine Barrens Commission, which is tasked with managing land use within the Pine Barrens.
We also advocate for funding and resources to help maintain the health of the Pine Barrens. Since the Pine Barrens is a fire-dependent ecosystem, prescribed burns are needed to support the survival of this important ecological community. Scheduled burns also help protect the surrounding community because without them, there is a risk of out of control wildfires causing damage to homes and people. These planned efforts are collaborations between the Central Pine Barrens Commission, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and local fire departments. Fire management helps trees be more resistant to the deleterious effects of the Southern Pine Beetle that has posed a significant threat to pine trees, particularly pitch pines, in recent years.
Using your donation dollars, we are able to be the voice of the Pine Barrens, and because of you, we have been able to launch a new campaign to acquire an additional 3,800 acres of land.
Protecting Our Drinking Water
Our non-profit also advocates for efforts to improve Long Island’s declining water quality. Since our island’s drinking water comes from underground aquifers, anything we do above ground affects our water supply. We help promote initiatives that help mitigate the negative effects that come from the way we use our land, such as Suffolk County’s septic system replacement program, known as the Reclaim Our Water Initiative, that would reduce the amount of nitrogen contaminating our groundwater. Our Society also focuses on educating the Long Island public about this crucial issue.
Educating Our Children
Our organization is also involved in the education system. For the past ten years, with the support of the National Grid Foundation, we have been hosting the annual Middle School Kids Go To College program. Middle school kids participate in a science competition, where they present their innovative solutions to address Long Island’s water quality crisis after researching the issue. In the past, this event has been held at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, however in recent years, we have adapted the program to be virtual in order to continue to provide this valuable opportunity to kids during the pandemic.
We are also getting involved with organizing field trips in the Pine Barrens, where kids in elementary school all the way up to high school can participate in fun activities that help them learn about our remarkable natural resource.
In addition, we recently initiated a scholarship program in 2020 in memory of Robin Hopkins Amper, who was instrumental in helping to preserve the Pine Barrens. Long Island students who share Robin’s commitment to the environment and who are pursuing an undergraduate degree have the opportunity to be awarded $5,000 through our scholarship fund.
Engaging the Public
In addition to being involved with education in schools, our organization works to engage the public with our local environment. We promote environmental stewardship and educate the community through informative newsletters, news articles, television programs, blog posts, and social media. On our website, we provide a variety of recreation guides with detailed information as well as quick tips about how you can enjoy the Pine Barrens. We also occasionally offer guided hikes or kayak tours that aim to get people outside and experience the wonderful natural areas that have been preserved for them.
Check out our Bridge to the Barrens blog on our website, our YouTube page featuring our TV shows, and our Facebook and Instagram pages to stay engaged with us.
Hopefully, you now see how meaningful your contributions are to not only our organization, but also to your local community. We are so grateful to all of our past donors because we could not have accomplished our goals and provided opportunities to the community without them.
Our work is never finished as there are new challenges arising every year. If you haven’t already, please consider making a donation to the Long Island Pine Barrens Society by visiting our website and clicking on Contribute under Support Us. To specifically donate to the scholarship program, click on Robin Amper Memorial Scholarship. We truly appreciate your generosity!
By: Kaitlyn Sherman, Long Island Pine Barrens Society
Katie Muether Brown
Cover Photo: Sandy Richard