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For Release: Tuesday, May 3, 2016

State DEC and Parks Replant Connetquot in the Wake of Southern Pine Beetle

As part of I Love My Park Day on Saturday, May 7, approximately one hundred volunteers will begin tree restoration efforts at Connetquot River State Park Preserve on Long Island, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. Under this restoration effort, volunteers will plant 600 native trees to reforest the park in the wake of those trees lost to the southern pine beetle with DEC Forest Health, Trees for Tribs, and State Parks staff. Southern pine beetle is a bark beetle that infests and kills pine trees.

"Since southern pine beetle arrived on Long Island in 2014, DEC, along with help from the Excelsior Conservation Corps, has removed more than 8,000 trees to suppress the beetle population," said Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos. "This tree suppression effort has left sections of Long Island needing tree restoration. As tree canopies open, and sunlight hits the ground, seeds from the parent trees will begin sprouting new trees for future generations."

To accelerate this regrowth, two year-old seedling pitch pine and white pine trees will be planted. The new trees are provided by DEC's Saratoga Tree Nursery, which has been reforesting New York since 1911. Planting these seedlings will ensure trees will close the canopy in future years, should natural regeneration be delayed due to drought or other weather conditions. These trees are an insurance that trees will replace those lost by this forest pest.

Restoration efforts to reforest this area are important as Connetquot River State Park Preserve is home to some of New York's most treasured species, including trout. Trout rely on trees to shade and cool waters as well as to drop leaves, which feed the aquatic insects that the fish eat. By restoring trees to the Park, DEC is working to ensure the future of this fish and the important habitat it needs to survive.

Connetquot is also pine barren habitat, which is rare in New York State. Replanting pine barren species such as white pine and pitch pine ensure that these open areas are filled with native species. Native trees also provide water quality benefits, reducing runoff of harmful pollutants into nearby streams. Native trees will also provide important wildlife habitat for birds and mammals, which rely on these species for nesting habitat and food.

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "Our partners at DEC and the ECC have done a fantastic job in halting the spread of the Southern Pine Beetle, and now I encourage park visitors to join us Saturday in this important work to reverse the damage at Connetquot River State Park."

Additional volunteers are still needed to help restore this important place for the future. DEC encourages those available to help restore Connetquot River State Park Preserve to volunteer in this important effort. Those interested should arrive at 9 a.m. at Connetquote River State Park Preserve on May 7. To register for I Love My Park Day, please click here.

The New York State ECC is a New York State AmeriCorps program run by the Student Conservation Association, created under the vision of Governor Cuomo to address the environmental and stewardship needs of New York State while inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders through environmental education programing. ECC members help State parks organize and implement I Love My Park Day projects.

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