More than 1,200 acres of open space and natural areas, and 630 acres of working farms on Long Island were protected from 2009-2010, according to a report issued today by The Nature Conservancy. The 2009-2010 report on Long Island’s Last Stand observes that although significant tracts of land were protected on Long Island, there was an overall decline in land protection from years prior. In the five years since the launch of Long Island’s Last Stand initiative, nearly 7,900 acres have been protected.
Long Island’s Last Stand is an effort to save the most significant remaining 25,000 acres of open space and 10,000 acres of farmland here and to restore and protect its harbors, bays and water quality. This initiative is supported by 100 local civic, farming, business and environmental leaders.
Preserving land and open space allows for ongoing natural benefits free of charge. Long Island’s wetlands, for example, provide a natural buffer against storms, keep the water in our bays and harbors clean. And, naturally-occurring seagrass meadows provide nursery habitat for commercially important seafood like striped bass, flounder and shellfish. But more needs to be done in both land preservation and water quality protection if Long Island’s environment is to remain healthy and thriving.
“There is a clear vision for success for a healthy environment on Long Island,” said Kevin McDonald, conservation finance and policy director for The Nature Conservancy on Long Island. “Enhancement and protection of Long Island’s harbors and bays, and drinking water quality must become a top priority – more funding, higher standards on sewer disposal systems is essential. This means that all levels of government must enact new measures and incentives to clean up groundwater pollution. They should investigate, pilot and implement better pollution removing technologies as a substitute for conventional septic systems.”
“One of the biggest pollutants to Long Island’s environment comes right from our land,” explains Wayne Grothe, marine conservation project director. “Here on Long Island, everything we put on the ground winds up in our groundwater and in turn in our bays and estuaries. The dominant source of pollutants –from wastewater – must be addressed and wastewater treatment options that reduce nitrogen must be explored if we are to continue to have healthy water to drink, swim in and fish in.”
In addition to focusing on water quality, the Long Island Last Stand coalition has several recommendations for preserving and protecting the local environment.
“With a struggling economic landscape, now is the time to get really creative. It’s time to implement as many sensible new strategies as we can if we are to reach 2020 with our natural and farmland heritage as a vital and functioning part of Long Island,” continued McDonald.
To download 2009-2010 Long Island Last Stand report, visit www.nature.org/longisland
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.