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5 LI projects get DEC funds to fight southern pine beetle

Southern pine beetles are threatening pine trees

Southern pine beetles are threatening pine trees on the South Shore. Credit: USDA Forest Service, Region 8 /

Five Long Island projects will split a state grant that tops $275,000 to thwart the southern pine beetle, which can kill trees in 2 to 4 months, officials said on Tuesday.

The programs will ensure dead trees do not become hazards, cut down infested trees, and replant native pine trees, the Department of Environmental Conservation said in a statement.

The beetles, which kill trees by digging into the bark and interrupting the flow of nutrients, first were found in Suffolk County in 2014. They do not attack hardwood trees.

The DEC said the insects probably migrated north from the southeast as winters became milder.

The grants will help safeguard the tree canopy in the Central Pine Barrens, which in turn protects the Island’s sole aquifer, rare species, and recreation, the DEC said,

“The cost of managing the negative impacts of the southern pine beetle is a significant hardship faced by Long Island communities,” Commissioner Basil Seggos said.

The DEC also is thinning pine tree forests, sometimes through burns, to keep the trees healthy.

Last year, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo earmarked $3 million to reduce infestations of southern pine beetles; the new budget includes $250,000 for controlled burns.

These are the Long Island projects the DEC funded:

  • Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, $75,000
  • Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District Nassau, Peter J. Schmitt Massapequa Preserve, $60,644
  • Bayard Cutting Arboretum Horticultural Society, Paradise Island, $60,820
  • Town of Southampton, Good Ground Park and Foster Avenue Park, $28,050
  • Town of Easthampton, $64,000

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