Open space and farmland preservation on Long Island increased in the past two years, but not fast enough to meet conservationists goal set years ago from development before the Island is built out. Local governments protected more than 1,700 acres last year and 967 acres in 2010. The growth comes after preservation declines in 2008 and 2009 related to the recession and a lack of large tracts of available land, according to a report issued, last week by the Long Island Pine Barrens Society.
“The period of decline has stopped and changed direction, but the rate of land purchased is not sufficient to get us to the goal, by a long shot.” society executive director Richard Amper said last week.
The Nature Conservancy of Long Island and 100 environmental, civic and business groups in 2006 set a goal to protect 25,000 acres of open space and 10,000 acres of farmland by 2020, the year they estimated every acre of Long Island would be designated for either development or preservation. With development slowed by the recession, the Pine Barrens Society estimates build out to occur in 2025. Even with the delay, it’s estimated local towns and counties will preserve a total of about 17,000 acres by 2025, Amper said.
Last year, Suffolk County and the towns of Brookhaven, Riverhead, Southampton, Southold, East Hampton and Shelter Island bought a total of 1,703 acres, up from 1,134 the year before.
Amper worries the number of acres preserved will not be sustained. “They are not expected to do that well in the next two years,” he said.