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Pine Barrens

From Central Park Historical Society Encyclopedia

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One time there were three preserves on Long Island: The Hempstead Plains, which was the largest prairie east of the Mississippi River with small grassy areas which later became the communities known to us as Plainedge and Plainview. The Plains merged with a dense shrubby Oak thicket of the Oak Brush Plains, now known as Island Trees. The Pine Barrens (in Suffolk County) which consist of 60,000 acres (approximately 100 sq. miles), and at one time consisted of 250,000 acres. The largest echo system on Long Island. The Pine Barrens sits atop the greatest quantities of the purist drinking water and has the ability to replenish the water supply to the acquifer. This aquifer is the sole supply of water for all Long Island and must be protected. It also boast the greatest diversity of plant and animal spices anywhere in the state of New York. Many of the plants and animals are endangered or threatened.

Today, all but 40 acres of the Hempstead Plains are gone, and 95% of the coastal salt marshes surrounding Nassau County's south shore have been filled or bulkheaded. From 1989 - 1995 the Pine Barrens Preservation initiative, which was Long Island's largest open space preservation initiative, resulted in the permanent preservation of 55,000 acres including ponds, streams, wetlands and the states longest groundwater fed river, the Peconic River. It also established special protections for an additional 45,000 acres. They are trying to preserve the Underhill property in Nassau County.

Information from a presentation by Mr. John Turner representing the Pine Barrens Society and Director of Conservation for the Nature Conservatory of Long Island found in the CPHS Newsletter - May and June 2003

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