ALBANY — After Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed a similar proposal last year, legislators agreed to a provision in the proposed state budget Friday to add more than 1,000 acres of forest and marshland in Shoreham and Mastic to the core pine barrens protected area in Suffolk County.
Assemb. Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) said the state plans to buy the largest site, more than 800 acres that ring the former Shoreham nuclear power plant site, from current owner National Grid for a yet undetermined price.
The state also would pay the nearly $2 million in annual property taxes National Grid pays to the Shoreham-Wading River Central School District, Englebright said.
The additions would also include public land in Mastic, he said.
“It’s one of the most diverse habitats to be found in one concentrated area anywhere on Long Island,” Englebright said. “It’s a great triumph for Long Island that this will be preserved and made available to the public.”
Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), who sponsored the vetoed bill along with Englebright, said Friday he will continue seeking to expand the pine barrens.
“By taking this long-term view, we reaffirm our commitment to the environment for future generations to keep our air, land and waters pristine,” he said.
Wendy Ladd, a spokeswoman for National Grid, said Friday morning: “We can confirm we’ve been in discussions with the state executive branch on this matter, but do not have any further details on the progress of discussions in Albany at this time.”
Both the Senate and Assembly have approved a bill containing the pine barrens expansion. The State Legislature reached a deal on the entire $168.3 billion budget Friday night.
The deal would conclude a year of uncertainty about the fate of the land, which hosts rare plants, varied ecosystems and hundreds of species that local civic and environmental groups have rallied to shield from development.
In June, the legislature approved a measure that would have added the land to the more than 100,000 acres in the towns of Riverhead, Brookhaven and Southampton that make up the pine barrens.
But Cuomo vetoed the measure in December after resistance from a local developer who has sought to build a solar farm on part of the Mastic site.
The vetoed bill “unnecessarily pits land preservation against renewable energy, both of which are necessary to preserve the state’s environment and natural resources for future generations,” the governor said at the time.
A Cuomo representative did not respond to a request for comment on the expected expansion. Last year, the governor’s office said it would work toward a resolution that preserved the acreage.
Englebright said the new protected area would not include the Mastic solar farm site, whose owners have finished clear-cutting the land in preparation for construction.