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Ceremony honors late Suffolk pol Nora Bredes

A ceremony dedicated the preserve portion of Forsythe

A ceremony dedicated the preserve portion of Forsythe Meadow County Park in memory of Nora Bredes. (April 14, 2012) Credit: Ed Betz

They gathered to honor the legacy of Long Island legislator, environmentalist and activist Nora Bredes.

Sixty admirers attended a ceremony at Stony Brook's Forsythe Meadow County Park Saturday to dedicate a nature preserve in Bredes' name. The woodlands are 20 miles from the site of what many regard as her greatest victory -- the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant she helped mothball.

"We were a ragtag group -- environmentalists, vegetarians, moms with baby carriages and anarchists -- but Nora had the key role; she held us all together," recalled George Hoffman, a longtime activist who worked with Bredes on the campaign.

Bredes, who died at 60 in August after a lengthy battle with breast cancer, was remembered as a staunch advocate for women's rights and open space preservation, as well as a champion of Suffolk County's smoking ban.

Talking about her role in the Shoreham fight, Babylon attorney Irving Like Saturday called her "the terminator."

Like, 87, who read a Native American prayer at the ceremony, led the initial legal fight that would become a multimillion-dollar battle.

The Shoreham Opponents Coalition organized by Bredes enlisted the support of the county and state, leading to the Long Island Lighting Co.'s 1989 decision to shutter the plant. Shoreham remains the only licensed commercial nuclear plant in the country to be decommissioned, Like said.

Assemb. Steven Englebright (D-Setauket), whom Bredes succeeded in the county legislature in the early '90s praised her leadership. "She had greatness in her," he said.

Forsythe Meadow, which spans 34 acres, was purchased in 1999 with funding from Greenways, a land preservation program Bredes sponsored during her almost eight years as legislator. She went on to head the New York League of Conservation Voters. She ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1996 and later became head of the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's Leadership at the University of Rochester.

County Legis. Kara Hahn, former Legis. Vivian Viloria-Fisher and Southampton Councilwoman Bridget Fleming spoke Saturday about how they were inspired by Bredes.

Afterward, one of Bredes' three sons, Nathan Bredes, 28, of Madison, Wis., said he appreciated the tribute.

"It's easy to forget as her son the work she did for this community," he said. "She started it before I was born."

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