The Nocturnal Pollinator

While you are outside enjoying these warm summer nights, you most likely will notice an abundance of moths. Some moths are nocturnal, while others are not. You might have even wondered what the purpose of a moth is and may have even thought that they are a nuisance. Some, but not all, actually do serve a significant purpose, which is that some nocturnal moths pollinate.

Nocturnal flowers exist, which have specific traits that attract the nocturnal moths. The flowers that attract moths are usually pale, dull-red, purple, pink, and white. Their strong sweet odor that is emitted at night attracts moths to its hidden, but ample nectar. The flowers have a limited amount of pollen and can be tubular in shape. The purpose of these specific traits that these flowers have to attract the moths is to ensure that its pollen will be successfully carried to another flower with the end result of reproduction.  

Hummingbird Moth by: Sandra Richard, Flickr CC

The Oakes’ Evening Primrose (Oenothera oakesiana) is a flowering nocturnal plant that can be found along sandy roadsides or streamsides in the Pine Barrens as well as on maritime dunes. This flowering nocturnal plant attracts moths for pollination. Not all nocturnal flowering plants that can be found on Long Island are native, but they still provide nectar for the nocturnal moths, such as the Moonflower. Moonflowers open at night and give off a fragrant smell in the evening to attract pollinators.

Oakes’ Evening Primrose by: Dan Mullen, Flickr CC

Moths that can be found in the Long Island Pine Barrens and that may pollinate these nocturnal, fragrant, and flowering-plants include, but are not limited to:

  • Waxed Sallow (Chaetaglaea cerata)
  • A Noctuid moth (Chytonix sensilis)
  • Melsheimer’s sack bearer (Cicinnus melsheimeri)
  • A hand-maid moth (Datana ranaeceps)
  • Barrens Buckmoth (Hemileuca maia maia)
  • Imperial moth (Eacles imperialis pini)
  • Brown-bordered geometer (Eumacaria madopata)
  • A noctuid moth (Eucoptocnemis fimbriaris)
  • A noctuid moth (Orthodes obscura)
  • Pink sallow (Psectraglaea carnosa

Isabella Tiger Moth by: Seabrooke Leckie, Flickr CC

As mentioned before, not all moths are nocturnal and not all moths pollinate and some moths are still not fully understood, but they should be appreciated. The next time, which may be tonight, when you are swarmed by the moths of the night, think about the purpose they may serve before well, you know… squishing them. 


By: Claire J Moran, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

 

BIRDS AND THE BEES Part II

The birds and the bees need our help!

Now onto the bees. In part I of the Birds and the Bees, we talked about the birds, but now let us discuss the bees. The bee population is on the decline as well. We rely heavily on honeybees, so let’s help them out too! We also cannot forget about the other bees, such as the Long Island natives, which include bumblebees and mason bees. Honeybees are considered invasive to Long Island, so we must give a little more TLC to our natives. Regardless, all bees are important and need our help. With 17 different species of bees on Long Island, our work is cut out for us, so we must act now! 

Bumblebee on a Happy Single Dahlia
Credit: John, Flickr CC

What would happen if we didn’t have any bees left?

If bees were to go extinct, the environment and human life would suffer tremendously. Bees play an unimaginable role in the cycle of reproduction all over the world. Plants rely on bees for pollination and humans rely on bees to pollinate many of the fruits and vegetables that we eat. Without the bees, there aren’t many other mechanisms for plants to transfer their pollen from one plant to another. It would be a very scary future without the bees! 

We are stressed out and so are the bees!

We know what it feels like when we are stressed out and it’s not good, so just imagine how a bee feels. Imagine what it feels like to have all of the following stressors affect you on a daily basis:

Stress 1 – Pesticides

There are contact pesticides and there are systemic pesticides. Contact pesticides are pesticides that are sprayed on plants that kill bees upon contact. Systemic pesticides are pesticides that are incorporated into the soil and or seeds, which result in the growth of plants that carry the pesticide in their pollen, stem, leaves, and nectar. Systemic pesticides are extremely harmful to bee colonies because the bee does not die immediately when it comes into contact with the pesticide, but instead, it carries the pesticide back with them to the entire colony. This can result in colony death. Pesticide use results in colony collapse disorder. Agencies such as the EPA and European Food Safety Authority  are working towards banning and limiting the use of pesticides that are toxic to bees. There is also another type of pesticide called the neonicotinoid. New research shows a connection between bee decline and this insecticide that was once believed to be more environmentally friendly compared to other pesticides being used.

Stress 2 – Invasive species

Invasive species like the external parasitic mite, Varroa destructor, threaten the bee population. This mite feeds on bees’ circulatory fluid, which then leads to the spreading of the mite to the colony. The mite spreads viral diseases and bacteria that can kill colony after colony. This one particular mite was discovered in Southeast Asia in 1904 and has since spread worldwide. 

Stress 3 – Habitat Loss

As our human population increases we continually destroy natural habitats that are home to many plants, animals, and insects. We impact the natural environment through fragmentation, degradation, and destruction. The International Union for Conservation of Nature predicts a global loss of 20,000 flowering plant species over the next couple decades. This will in turn lead to the decline of pollinators that depend on these plants for survival. Habitat diversity is key to the survival of many species including the bees. 

Stress 4 – Climate Change

Bees rely on natural cues within the environment  to make certain decisions, but because of climate change, those natural cues have been thrown off. Due to climate change, there has been a loss of bee habitats. Normally, bees would migrate to cooler areas and establish new hives, but because of climate change, bee territories have shrunk tremendously. The rise in temperatures has also affected the timing of when flowers bloom, which has created a food source issue for bees. Bees are ready to feed on pollen at a certain time, but due to climate change, that timing of when flowers bloom and the bees are ready to feed are no longer matching up. The stress of climate change on the bees can also cause bees to be more susceptible to infections. 

Other stressors include: parasites, viruses, bacterial diseases, malnutrition, and queen quality.

There are way too many stressors that the bees have to deal with. Unfortunately, we are the cause of many of these stressors that affect the bees. However, we all have the ability to make bees’ lives a lot less stressful, so let’s do our part.

Here is what you can do to help the bees survive and thrive!
  1. Stop using pesticides and herbicides! There are alternatives to pesticides that won’t harm and kill the bees. The following link may be helpful when choosing an alternative method: https://www.planetbee.org/natural-pest-control
  2. Plant wisely! Bees are attracted to blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow flowering plants.
  3. Plant strategically! Bees depend on plant pollen and nectar throughout the growing season, so plant plants that will bloom throughout the growing season.
  4. Perennials and herbs are good sources of nectar and pollen for bees, so plant them and don’t forget, plant native. Bees need and love native plants, not the fancy exotic non-natives. 
  5. Ditch the fully groomed lawn! Give yourself and the bees a break and let those clovers, dandelions, and violets grow all over your lawn.
  6. Again, plant native! Fun fact, the Pine Barrens white-flowering low bush blueberry is a great source of food for the bumble bee. They have a symbiotic relationship, which means they both depend on each other for survival. Some plants do have the ability to self-pollinate, but cross-pollination is much better. 
  7. Other Pine Barrens native plants that are co-dependent with bees,  are the Sweet pepper-bush, Sheep-laurel, and the American-holly. 
  8. Bee informed! Research local stressors to bees in your area and get involved in recovery efforts.
  9. Support local beekeepers who are respectful and thoughtful to the bees and buy local chemical-free honey! We do not want to support beekeepers who treat their bees inhumanly and use chemicals. 
  10. Bees are thirsty too! Leave a small water dish or a water-filled bird bath out for the bees.
  11. Sign petitions, speak up, and vote to support the bees. Our local, state, and federal government must hear and see our support for the bees so that changes will be made.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and follow along throughout the entire month of May, where we are featuring native plants each week.


By: Claire J Moran, Long Island Pine Barrens Society 

 

BIRDS AND THE BEES Part I

Chickadee on a branch

The birds and the bees need our help!

Let’s start with the birds. The bird population has many threats and we can do

something to mitigate them! The threats to the bird population here on Long Island include:

  • Habitat Loss
  • Climate Change
  • Bird Collisions
  • Pesticides
  • Cats
  • Hunting

Hermit Thrush

Habitat Loss 

The destruction and fragmentation of habitats is the most critical threat that the birds are

facing today. Bird habitats on Long Island consist of forests, grasslands, wetlands, and

beaches. These habitats are especially crucial for threatened and at-risk bird species.

These habitats are being destroyed by infrastructure development. Migratory birds are

especially affected because they rely on many different geographic locations throughout

their annual cycle for food, rest, and breeding.

Climate Change

As we influence our climate, we also influence the ecosystems that birds rely on for

survival. With increased air temperatures and major temperature shifts in the oceans,

the airflow that birds rely on to navigate has changed and therefore has made it difficult

for migratory birds especially, to navigate to their destinations. The rise in sea level has

also displaced many species of coastal birds. Climate change also has indirect effects.

Due to climate change, the prey that many birds rely on has changed due to the change in

waterbody temperatures. These changes may be minor for us, but they are devastating

for migratory birds because the delicate ecosystems have been thrown off balance.

Climate change throws off the natural cues within the environment that drive the timing

behind bird migration and reproduction. 

Bird Collisions

Millions of birds die each year due to collisions that are caused by man-made

structures. Man-made structures include:

  • Wind turbines
  • Communication towers
  • Homes
  • Glass Windows
  • Power lines
  • Airplanes

Pesticides

Chemicals kill! The chemicals that the agricultural industry uses kill birds. DDT may have

been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) back in 1972, but

chemicals that are considered close relatives to DDT are still used today. The chemicals

Organochlorine insecticides are still being used and are killing birds and thinning their

eggshells. Birds do not have to come into direct contact with pesticides to be harmed by

them. Toxins are carried up the food chain in an ecosystem, which means that the bird’s

prey can contain pesticides and when eaten, it can harm the bird. Over time, the

pesticides will accumulate, which is called bioaccumulation. The bird’s prey can also die

from the pesticides, which can result in bird starvation.

Cats

This may sound cliche, but the common house cat is actually one of the greatest

predators to birds. The increase in population density, which has resulted in more

development, has led to the increase in stray cats, therefore resulting in an increase in

predators.

Hunting

Hunting for birds is common on Long Island and considered a sport as well as a source

of food for some, but with poor regulation, overhunting can lead to a decline in bird

populations.

Bird House

What You Can Do To Help The Birds!

  • Support Longs Island’s state parks and preserves that are used to help rebound these bird populations.
  • Get involved with habitat restoration and conservation projects.
  • Support organizations, such as the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, to help stop development.
  • Apply window film to your homes windows to reduce bird collisions.
  • Keep your cat indoors or put a bell on your cat’s collar.
  • If you see something, say something! If you think that a hunter is not abiding by the rules, then give the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) a call.
  • Delay tree trimming or removal until November – February to avoid nesting season.
  • Hang bird feeders with fresh seed in your yard.
  • Build or buy a bird house and attach it to a sturdy post in your yard.
  • Plant bird-friendly native plants. Use the following link to find bird-friendly native plants for your area: https://www.audubon.org/native-plants

By: Claire J Moran, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

THE FUTURE OF THE ENVIRONMENT IS IN OUR HANDS!

Pitch Pine branches and needles

What do you think of when you hear and see the word “environment”? The environment encompasses many things, the living and the non-living things. Both interact with one another and depend on each other. The non-living things are the abiotic elements, while the living things are the biotic elements. When we refer to abiotic elements we are referring to the air, water, soil, sunlight and so on. When we refer to the biotic elements we are referring to the animals, insects, plants and so on. All of these “things” that make up the environment have intrinsic value. 

Biotic & abiotic elements working together at the Edward J. & Dorothy C. Kempf Preserve at Wading River Marsh

The environment depends on us just as we depend on it!

We depend on the environment for our health and the environment depends on us for its health. As the years go on and we move further into the future, the effect we have on the environment becomes more apparent. As a highly-developed country, it becomes difficult to separate ourselves from contributing to the negative impact that we have on the environment. The act of just living in the world today has a negative impact, whether it be driving our cars or as simple as washing our clothes, which is essential for most to live. We undermine what we can do on an individual level to help the environment. The idea is not to think that your individual act won’t mean anything if another’s individual act will have negative impacts. Positive deeds are not cancelled out by a negative act. Just one individual’s positive impact can influence so many others to follow suit. 

Take Action!

How you can contribute to a healthier environment and a healthier you!

Big changes no matter what they may be are difficult, but changing for the environment doesn’t have to be. When you make changes to help the environment you are also making healthier changes for yourself too. The reward may not be immediate, and it may not even be visible, but it does make a difference.

  • One thing that you can do that is free and empowering is to speak up. Be the voice that the environment does not have. If you have a social media account, speak up. Start a conversation at the dinner table with friends and family and discuss the positive changes that you can all make for the greater good.
  • This one is a difficult one, but if you can, ride your bike or walk as a means of transportation, even if it’s just one day a week.
  • This next one is something that everyone can definitely do, reduce your waste! The products that we purchase end up back into the environment and are incredibly damaging. Find a store nearby where you can use your own containers to purchase food instead of continuing to buy food that is in plastic containers.
  • Support eco-friendly products and shop local. When we purchase products from large companies we might as well be saying that it is okay to hurt our environment.
  • Keep yourself informed! Sign-up for our email alerts, for more actions you can take to protect our environment. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

The above are just a few of the ways that you can help and there are so many more! Stay informed by doing your own research, so that you can choose how you want to make a change and help the environment. Every bit counts!

By: Claire J Moran, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

Get Involved in Our Work This Earth Day!

Two hands cupping soil with a plant in it

Happy Earth Day! To us at the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, every day is Earth Day. However, we still use today as a day to reflect on all of our environmental successes and the challenges that still lie ahead.

This year, we celebrate the 50th Earth Day! On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans — 10% of the U.S. population at the time — took to the streets. College campuses and hundreds of cities protested environmental ignorance and demanded a new way forward for our planet.

New York Times Cover of first earth day in 1970

The Long Island Pine Barrens Society was founded not long after that, in 1977. Our founders saw that the Pine Barrens were increasingly becoming a target for development and knew it had to be stopped in order to save this special ecosystem and protect our water quality.

Continuing into our fourth decade, we’re often asked how people can get involved in our work, so in honor of Earth Day, we will enumerate the many ways people can work together to protect the Long Island Pine Barrens and our precious drinking water supply.

#1 – Become a Member

Join our email list to receive periodic updates on upcoming events, action alerts and Pine Barrens-related news.

#2 – Make Your Voice Heard

Attend local forums, hearings and rallies – help tell our public officials that Pine Barrens land needs to be protected and that clean water must be a top priority across Long Island. After you become a member, we’ll keep you updated on events that you might want to attend and the actions you can take.

People holding signs that read save our water save our pine barrens

#3 – Write a Letter to the Editor

Write a letter to Newsday or your local paper expressing your opinion on environmental issues. Elected officials and community members read the letters, so they’re a great way to spread awareness about important topics.

#4 – Read Our Newsletter

Check out the latest edition of our newsletter online, or with a small donation, you will receive our current newsletter in the mail. Members also get sent monthly e-newsletters directly to their inbox.

#5 – Follow us on Facebook and Instgram

Join in on the conversation! Find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/PineBarrensSociety and on Instagram at @LIPineBarrens. Share one of our posts to help educate your friends and family on important environmental issues.

#6 – Watch Our TV Program

Catch an episode of our monthly TV program on Cable Public Access or by streaming it on our YouTube channel.

#7 – Attend Our Annual Gala

Join us each year, as we celebrate the anniversary of the Society and honor the Island’s top environmental leaders. It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year!

Guests filling the room at Oheka Castle for the Pine Barrens Society Gala

#8 – Get Outside and Enjoy the Pine Barrens

Experience the beauty of the Pine Barrens for yourself by using our handy recreation guides. Share pictures with family and friends, share them on social media (and tag us), to spread the word about this wonderful ecosystem.

People hiking together in the Long Island Pine Barrens

#9 – Be a Guardian of the Pine Barrens and Report a Violation

If you observe any illegal activity (clearing, dumping of waste, ATV use, etc.) in the Pine Barrens, please call 1-877-BARRENS (1-877-227-7367).

#10 – Consider Making a Donation

We rely on the support and generosity of people like you to continue our important work to protect drinking water and preserve open space. Any donation, small or large, is greatly appreciated.


By: Katie Muether Brown, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

 

Saving Our Trees, Saves Our Water

Pitch pine needles with water droplets

We colloquially call the piece of legislation that protected over 100,000 acres of Pine Barrens land, the “Long Island Pine Barrens Protection Act.” But, that’s not its formal title! It actually has two formal titles – the “Long Island Pine Barrens Maritime Reserve Act” and the “Peconic Bay Region Watershed Protection Act.” It’s Article 57 of New York State Environmental Conservation Law.

The Act’s legislative declaration is as follows:

The legislature hereby declares it to be in the public interest to protect and manage the Pine Barrens-Peconic Bay system, in the county of Suffolk, by establishing a Long Island Pine Barrens maritime reserve.”

Sign showing that the Pine Barrens Act has passed a vote in the New York State Legislature 1993

The Pine Barrens Act Passes in the New York State Legislature

Well then, what does the preservation of acres of trees have to do with water? The Act’s formal name reflects the Pine Barrens’ important role in protecting our ground and surface waters.

All Long Island’s drinking water comes from a series of underground aquifers. This led the federal Environmental Protection Agency to designate our aquifer system as the nation’s first Sole Source Aquifer, requiring special protection. The quality of our drinking water depends, therefore, on how Long Island’s land is used. The more land is used for homes, lawns, agriculture, business and industry, the greater the contamination of our aquifers.

Diagram showing Long Island's underground drinking water aquifers

Long Island’s Aquifer System

Long Island’s aquifer system is not static – they slowly flow from high ground to low, are recharged by rainfall, and they supply the majority of fresh water entering our streams, lakes and bays. The Pine Barrens contain portions of the watersheds of two major rivers – the Carmans and the Peconic. The region also interfaces with the Peconic Estuary and the South Shore Estuary Reserve.

Outside the Pine Barrens, water pollution is rampant. Nitrogen pollution from wastewater and fertilizer use on lawns and farms is entering our aquifers and eventually, flows into our bays, rivers, lakes and streams. There, the nitrogen pollution fuels the growth of harmful algae blooms, which are devastating our marine ecosystems and our economy.

As scientists survey the levels of nitrogen across Long Island, one fact is abundantly clear: while groundwater beneath the densest developments on Long Island have the highest nitrogen level, the Pine Barrens Core Preservation Area has the lowest levels of nitrogen on Long Island. Preserving the Pine Barrens protected the largest quantity of the purest drinking water on Long Island.

Saving the Long Island Pine Barrens protected the habitat of thousands of plant and animal species, many of which are rare and endangered. It also gave us humans an untouched natural place to enjoy and explore. However, perhaps the most important feature of all, protecting the Pine Barrens was vital to protecting our water quality. It’s also why we must work to save what open space is left!


By: Katie Muether Brown, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

1,4-Dioxane, What is it and What can We Do!

People holding protest signs that read Save Our Water Save Our Pine Barrens

1,4-dioxane is a byproduct of manufacturing and therefore it’s not listed on product labels, which makes it difficult to look out for when purchasing products. It is vital to human health and the health of the environment to stay far away from 1,4-dioxane and we can all do so by avoiding the known products that contain it. Listed below are products to look out for that could contain 1,4-dioxane:

  • Paints
  • Primers
  • Varnishes
  • Degreasers
  • Ink
  • Laundry Detergents
  • Soaps
  • Shampoos
  • Baby Products

Toxic and Cancer Causing

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) when combined during the manufacturing process, creates the byproduct 1,4-dioxane. SLS and SLES are bad chemicals on their own and have been linked to irritation of the skin and eyes, neurotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, organ toxicity, endocrine disruption and ecotoxicology. These are the same chemicals found in many of the products we use on a daily basis.

What the Agencies Have to Say

The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified 1,4-dioxane as a Group 2B carcinogen, which means that it is possibly carcinogenic to humans. All in all that just means that there is not enough data yet to support it. The United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) recommends that these levels be monitored, and encourages manufacturers to remove 1,4-dioxane, but it is not  required for them to do so by federal law. Governor Cuomo signed a bill banning products in the State of New York with 1,4-dioxane, starting in 2020 as pictured bellow: 

 “As emerging contaminants like 1,4-dioxane continue to show up in water systems around the country, in New York we are taking aggressive action to keep our drinking water clean and safe,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen May 12, said in a statement Monday. Credit: Charles Eckert

I would not take chances on even possibly carcinogenic, especially when it comes to washing newborn babies with baby detergent that is labeled safe and gentle and free of chemicals, when really it is full of 1,4-dioxane. These are the products we are bathing in everyday, washing our clothes with, cleaning with, and drinking! 1,4-dioxane is ending up in our water, which is extremely difficult to reverse the damaging effects of. Pictured below is a list of products with the highest levels of 1,4-dioxane:

Common products found to have dangerously high levels of 1,4-dioxane – Credit: CCE

What YOU Can Do

Knowing what to look out for and what products are safe is crucial. With so many products on the shelves, it can be very difficult to pick the right one. The graphic below is a great visual and long list of what we know is safe on the shelves. Don’t forget, the products we use on a daily basis get flushed down the drain and go back into our water. With Long Island exceeding the national average and testing showing highest levels in the state of New York, we need to do what we can to keep chemicals out of our water source because it’s the only one we have. So, it is not just what we use that is important to our health, but it is important to the health of the environment. Eliminating the products that are known to contain 1,4-dioxane will put you a step in the right direction of better health, but the environments too.

Products found to have no detectable levels of 1,4-dioxane – Credit: CCE

More information on the above can be found by clicking on the links below:

Websites to use:

 

By: Claire J Moran, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

 

 

International Women’s Day 2020 – Celebrating a Long Island Environmentalist

On March 8th each year, the world celebrates “International Women’s Day.” Today we celebrate the achievements of women and take action for equality.

This year’s theme is, “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.”

From the mother of the environmental movement, Rachel Carlson, to Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle, Lois Gibbs, Greta Thunberg and more – we applaud the contributions that women have made towards the preservation of our natural environment.

One Long Island woman who comes to mind in celebration of today is Grace E. Barstow Murphy (1888-1975). Not only was she an advocate for the natural world who believed in preservation, conservation, and clean water for all, but Murphy was also a gardener who believed in letting the “wild things” grow, such as milkweed, which is an important food source for many of Long Island’s pollinators, like the monarch butterfly.

Grace Barstow Murphy, c. 1950. Courtesy of Robert Cushman Murphy Collection, Box 24, Special Collections and University Archives, Stony Brook University Libraries

Grace E. Barstow Murphy was also a conservationist and a political activist. Murphy was amongst several other women who made efforts to acquire preserves and sanctuaries for Long Island’s Nature Conservancy, for the purpose of “the preservation of natural areas on Long Island as living museums for the future.” In light of this year’s theme, it’s important to note that Murphy was a leading woman in organizing the “Women United for Long Island” group in order to “further the cause of conservation and public opinion to conserve the natural resources and beauty of Long Island.”

She was an exceptional woman of her time and a woman that all can learn from even more so today. Murphy was a true advocate for the natural world, but she was not alone in the fight. She was amongst many other Long Island women who fought to preserve nature and the environment.    

Grace and Robert Cushman Murphy (undated). Courtesy Robert Cushman Murphy Collection, Box 24, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries.

Grace Murphy was the beloved wife of Robert Cushman Murphy, whom the Suffolk County Park in Manorville was named after. Grace often joined Robert on his expeditions around the world, studying the natural environment. She helped him catalog and ship many specimens for collections at the American Museum of Natural History.

Directions to Robert Cushman Murphy County Park:
Long Island Expressway (Route 495) to exit 70; CR 111 south to Halsey Manor Road; left turn at Halsey Manor Road; follow north, across the Long Island Expressway and railroad tracks. Halsey Manor Road becomes Conneticut Avenue once railroad tracks have been crossed. Follow Conneticut Avenue north to River Road. Make left turn at River Road and make next left turn at Old River Road. Follow Old River Road to the first entrance on your right (north side of the road).

Grace E. Barstow Murphy deserves recognition in her own right, which is why we are celebrating her today!

More information on Grace E. Barstow Murphy and other notable Long Island women who fought for the preservation of nature and the environment can be found by clicking on the following link: https://lihj.cc.stonybrook.edu/2016/articles/long-island-women-preserving-nature-and-the-environment/

By: Claire J Moran, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

A Step Into Nature = A Step in the Right Direction Both Physically and Mentally

Nature can be enjoyed on both a physical and mental level. So, if the physical aspect of getting out into nature does not entice you, then the psychological benefits just might! The hustle and bustle of everyday life can be overwhelming for all of us – so why not let nature ease some of that stress naturally?

Flanders Bay Hike with Richard Amper, the Society’s Executive Director, along with Kathleen Nasta and New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright

The American Psychological Association (APA) Says So

Don’t just take it from us, take it from the experts. According to the APA, “Green is good for you.” Nature’s positive impacts on mental health are overwhelmingly good. The following are just a few positive outcomes that can come from simply being in nature and the great part about it is that you don’t even have to move if you choose not to!

  • Reduces feelings of anger and fear
  • Alleviates stress, anxiety and depression
  • Increases creativity and attention capacity
  • Strengthens the ability to connect with others

In addition to the mental health impacts, being in nature has a positive impact on the body’s overall physical well being. The following are just a few ways in which nature has a positive physical impact:

  • Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reduces muscle tension and stress hormones
  • Keeps the body feeling energized
  • Speeds up physical recovery
Where one might go in nature to seek positive results

So far, you are already taking a step in the right direction, because you’ve come to the perfect place! The Long Island Pine Barrens has over 100,000 acres of protected natural space where you can go to be one with nature.

Image result for you are now entering a stress free zone

There are several places that you can go to within the Pine Barrens that are accessible to the public, which are as follows:

  • Brookhaven State Park, William Floyd Parkway, Wading River
  • Cathedral Pines County Park, Yaphank-Middle Island Road, Middle Island
  • David A. Sarnoff Pine Barrens Preserve, Flanders and Northampton
  • Dwarf Pine Plains Preserve, County Road 31, Westhampton Beach
  • Long Island Game Farm, Chapman Boulevard, Manorville
  • Manorville Hills County Park, County Road 111, Manorville
  • Paumanok Path
  • Quogue Wildlife Refuge, Old Country Road, Quogue
  • Robert Cushman Murphy County Park, River Road, Calverton and Manorville
  • Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest, Rocky Point and Ridge
  • Sears-Bellows County Park, Bellows Pond Road, Hampton Bays
  • Southaven County Park, Victory Boulevard, Shirley
  • Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, Shirley and Brookhaven

More information on the above can be found by clicking on the links below:

Pine Barrens Preserve Locations

Pine Barrens Trail Guide


By: Claire J Moran, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

History of “The Hills”

Lewis Road PRD development project proposed for the East Quogue Pine Barrens

If you’ve been following us for a while, then you know that we’ve been fighting a massive development project proposed for the East Quogue Pine Barrens, for quite some time!

It’s been a long and sometimes confusing process for everyone involved. The project has moved through several layers of government. There have been victories and losses. As we approach one of the most important hearings for this project later this month (more on that later), we thought we would provide proper background coverage on where we are today and how we got here.

The Beginning

In 2013, an application for “The Hills at Southampton” was submitted to the Town of Southampton, requesting a zoning-change under the Town’s Planned Development District (PDD) code. Although this started the process we’re in now, discussions and fights against this project date back to at least 2007.

What’s Proposed

The developer, Arizona-based Discovery Land Company, proposed to build 118 mansions, a 98 acre private golf course, a 155,000 square foot club house, and several other amenities and structures, on 590 acres of pristine Pine Barrens in East Quogue. The development site is also located in a state-designated Special Groundwater Protection Area, as well as a Suffolk County-designated Critical Environmental Area. In addition, the site is also part of a group of lands which The Nature Conservancy has given top priority for permanent preservation.

The development site, located in the East Quogue Pine Barrens.

The PDD Process

From 2013 to 2017, the Pine Barrens Society and many other environmental and civic groups, banded together to participate in the Planned Development District (PDD) and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) processes. While we worked to pull the community together – holding community forums, bringing in scientific experts, canvassing the neighborhood – the developer took a different approach. They hired people in the town to advocate on their behalf, they promised people jobs, they promised multi-million dollar “community benefit projects,” they set up food trucks outside public hearings, and they donated tens of thousands of dollars to political campaigns.

We reviewed hundreds of pages of documents and participated in countless hearings for these four years. Our coalition even worked to produce an environmentally-safe alternative for the site, if preservation options were truly off the table. We wrote letters to the editor, held rallies and lobbied local elected officials.

Rally Against “The Hills”

In the end, our hard work paid off. In December of 2017, the Southampton Town Board voted down the project. The town also repealed the PDD legislation.  We were thrilled about the result, but knew the developer still owned the land and that our work wasn’t over yet.

The Lawsuit

The developer, who spent years touting what “good neighbors” they are, and how much they cared about the people of the town, immediately filed a $100-million lawsuit against the town and the two town board members who had the courage to vote against the project. This suit is still pending.

The Village

Once the project was voted down by the Town Board, proponents of the project, launched an effort to incorporate the village of East Quogue. Several members of the Village Exploratory Committee, witnesses of the signatures on the petition, the notary of the petition, and many of those who signed the petition for incorporation, had vested interests in Discovery Land Company and had been vocal advocates of the Hills project. One member of the exploratory committee was a paid consultant of Discovery. They had hoped that they would take the decision power out of the hands of the town and be able to re-run their project under a newly-formed village government.  While this effort was a local town issue, we knew we had to get involved, because we knew that this was just another attempt to get “The Hills” approved.

After a few more months of work within the community, and advocacy, the residents of East Quogue voted down the idea of incorporating East Quogue into a village. The project would remain in the hands of the Town of Southampton.

The Lewis Road PRD – Same Project, New Name

Just months after the Town Board voted down the “Hills at Southampton,” the developer filed a nearly identical project under a different piece of zoning code, called a Planned Residential Development (PRD). The new project was named “The Lewis Road PRD.” Ironically enough, the developer filed for the project under the town’s Open Space Law. The project would now be reviewed by the Southampton Town Planning Board.  The developer argued that its professional golf course was simply a recreational amenity to their now 130 home development project. However, the golf course wasn’t the only proposed amenity – they also proposed a baseball field, a practice fairway, a fitness center, pool, basketball court and four pickle ball courts.

The Planning Board, was not sure if a professional golf course could be considered a recreational amenity, as outlined by the Town’s Open Space Law and PRD ordinance. This had never been done before, and a golf course was not listed as an approved amenity in the town code. Therefore, they asked the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for clarification.

The Society and our coalition testified at these hearings before the ZBA. We argued two things:

(1) The Open Space Law and the PRD ordinance explicitly do not allow for golf courses as a recreational amenity to a development project.  Several leading planners testified the same, including Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who wrote the town’s Open Space Law many years ago.

And

(2) If the project would have been allowed to pass through under the Planned Residential Development zoning from the beginning, wouldn’t the developer have proceeded with this route in the first place, instead of trying to get their project approved under the more difficult Planned Development District zoning? In fact, the developer had stated years prior in legal documents that the PDD process was that they could proceed with their project. However, here they are now, arguing the opposite.

The Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals sided with the developer, and stated that the golf course could be considered a recreational amenity. After this, the Group for the East End filed a lawsuit challenging this decision; we joined them along with Assemblyman Fred Thiele, the East Quogue Civic Association and several neighbors that abut the property.

The project then bounced back to the Town Planning Board. Our coalition showed up again, testifying before the Board. We made all of our original arguments, along with new arguments about how the Town had completely botched the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process in its review of this new project. Nevertheless, the Town Board approved the preliminary application. Group for the East End sued again, and we joined them again too.

Luckily, our lawsuits have placed a temporary restraining order over the site until they are settled. The developer cannot break ground until the lawsuits are settled.

The New York State Pine Barrens Commission

Since the Southampton Planning Board approved the preliminary application, the project finally heads to the New York State Pine Barrens Commission for review. We have reviewed the 174 page application sent to the Commission, and have determined that the Lewis Road PRD does not comply with at least 28 guidelines of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan. We will be submitting a report on this and participating in the hearing before the Commission, to be held on Wednesday, February 19th at 2:30 pm at Riverhead Town Hall. More details on the hearing can be found here.

We need your help! This hearing before the Pine Barrens Commission is our last chance to voice our concerns about this project. We need as many people as possible to turn out to this hearing. This project doesn’t comply with the Pine Barrens Act and the Commissioners need to hear that the public wants to see our Pine Barrens protected! We hope to see you there.


By: Katie Muether Brown, Long Island Pine Barrens Society