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For Release: Wednesday, July 19, 2023

DEC Announces Acquisition of Parcel in Pine Barrens Core

Sensitive 2.5-Acre Parcel in Heart of Carmans River Watershed will Help Safeguard Drinking Water

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the acquisition of 2.5 acres of sensitive riverfront property in the heart of the Carmans River watershed. The purchase of the parcel located in Yaphank, town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County, was completed in cooperation with the town, which committed to taking down several abandoned structures on the property and grading the site to advance its return to a natural condition.

"The preservation of this parcel adds to protected areas of the Pine Barrens Core and will help safeguard water quality in the Carmans River for current and future Long Islanders," said Commissioner Seggos. "I applaud our DEC land conservation team and the town of Brookhaven for working together to make this waterfront acquisition a reality and creating a significant, new opportunity for drinking water and habitat protection and recreational access."

"The Carmans River is one of the most important environmental and recreational waterways in the Town of Brookhaven and I am committed to do whatever is necessary to help protect it," said Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine. "This acquisition is a clear signal that the DEC intends to work with the Town to preserve our ecological assets so future generations can enjoy them as we do today. I thank DEC Commissioner Seggos for his support and I look forward to working with him in the future."

The 2.5-acre parcel was a priority acquisition under both the New York State Open Space Conservation Plan and the Carmans River Conservation and Management Plan. The parcel includes a pristine freshwater pond and 175 feet of frontage on the Carmans River, and will protect water quality in the zero- to two-year groundwater contributing area in the Carmans River watershed.

The parcel was surrounded by DEC's 24.5-acre Carmans River Pine Barrens State Forest, which was acquired in 2005 and is located on Gerard Road in Yaphank between exits 66 and 67 on the Long Island Expressway. At that time, DEC and the town partnered to purchase all of the undeveloped lots in an old residential subdivision known as Connecticut River Estates with the exception of this one developed parcel. More than a decade later, the parcel was offered for sale to DEC. Consolidation of DEC's ownership will enable more cohesive management of the natural resources on the property and greatly enhance opportunities for public recreational access.

With the entire subdivision now in public ownership, its four acres of undeveloped roads can be formally abandoned and also made part of the State Forest. The Carmans River Pine Barrens State Forest is open to hunting, hiking, and wildlife viewing. A variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians live in the unique habitats of the pine barrens and the Carmans River watershed. Native wildlife includes white-tailed deer, red fox, opossum, Eastern cottontail, red-tailed hawk, osprey, pine warbler, turkey, bald eagle, Eastern box turtle, and Eastern hognose snake. It adjoins other protected land owned by Suffolk County and the town of Brookhaven.

Located in the Central Long Island Pine Barrens Region, the 10-mile-long Carmans River winds its way through publicly protected and managed land. Sections of the Carmans River are designated by New York State as a Wild, Scenic, and Recreational River and a New York State Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat. The Carmans River and the Peconic River are Long Island's only rivers in the Pine Barrens region. The headwaters of the Carmans River begin in Middle Island and descend southward to Shirley.

The area covered by the town of Brookhaven's Carmans River Watershed Protection Management Plan is approximately 22,000 acres and is defined by the 100-year groundwater contributing area. The 100-year groundwater contributing area means that water within this boundary takes 100 years or less to reach the river.

The property announced today was purchased with $290,000 from the State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). In the 2023-24 State Budget, Governor Kathy Hochul maintained EPF funding at $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program's history. The EPF also provides funding for critical environmental programs such as climate change mitigation, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, enhanced recreational access, water quality improvement, and an aggressive environmental justice agenda.

aerial map view of acquisitions
Aerial map with legend shows 2.5-acre Carmans River 2023 and 2005 acquisitions

photo of landscape in the new acquisition
Photo of Carmans River property purchase, courtesy of DEC.

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