Pine Barrens in Mastic, which were intended to be added to the Pine Barrens preserve under state legislation proposed by State Assembly Environmental Conservation Chair, Steven Englebright and State Senator Kenneth LaValle, faces immediate clearing, even as environmentalists obtained a Temporary Restraining Order against commencement of solar development there. The preservation bill was vetoed by Governor Andrew Cuomo at the urging of Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment and Marcia Bystryn of the New York League of Conservation Voters, but aides to Governor Cuomo were working on alternatives that would prevent clearing of Pine Barrens forest and re-direct location of a proposed solar factory.
Pine Barrens Society Executive Director Richard Amper said, “Clear-cutting the Pine Barrens would be a terrible blow to the environment, because solar energy should be sited on rooftops, in parking lots or on previously cleared land – avoiding destruction of woodlands that sit above Long Island’s purest water supply and boast the greatest diversity of plants and animals anywhere in New York State.”
Amper blamed Esposito and Bystryn for having given Governor Cuomo bad advice and attacked the New York State Pine Barrens Commission Executive Director John Pavacic for promising to provide the governor’s staff with siting alternatives, then reneging on the promise. Amper called for Pavacic’s resignation and the Commission took no action at its afternoon meeting, last Wednesday..
Late Wednesday, environmental and civic groups obtained a Temporary Restraining Order from Supreme Court Justice William G. Ford prohibiting further clearing or construction at the Mastic site. That restraining order was lifted last Friday and clearing is expected to resume today.
Mary Ann Johnston, President of the Affiliated Civic Organization, said, “Assemblyman Englebright and Senator LaValle have already re-introduced a bill to include these lands in the Pine Barrens Core Preservation Area. We are hopeful that Adrienne Esposito of CCE, and Marcia Bystryn of the New York League of Conservation Voters will stop opposing the Pine Barrens expansion to include the Mastic Woods, as their opposition is a betrayal of their organization’s credibility on environmental and preservation issues on Long Island.”