Sitting on Grumman Boulevard and just west of Line Road in Riverhead are thousands of acres of Pine Barrens property whose beauty residents and environmental advocates Saturday were showcasing to the public in efforts to preserve it.
Upwards of 60 people showed up Saturday at the Enterprise Park in Calverton to the second annual EPCAL Walk. The event — a half-mile walk around publicly accessible parts of the 2,700-acre property — was sponsored by civic group EPCAL Watch, which monitors changes at the property.
Erin Vlasac, a longtime Manorville resident, toured the property with family, including her two sons, Sean Vlasac , 10, and Jake Vlasac, 8, having all purchased walking sticks for the hike. Erin Vlasac said, aside from spending a day with family, it was important to her that her children learn about the environment in their own town.
“I grew up in Manorville my whole life, and it’s just important to us and it’s important for our children to teach them [while] young to take care of the earth,” said Vlasac.
Steve Kuhl, an Aquebogue resident and member of EPCAL Watch, spent the day as a tour guide for participants as he explained the history of the property and showed them things being built there, such as a planned water ski park.
Participants also had a chance to take pictures of the pine trees, take home their own chestnut seedlings, and enjoy the brief hike outdoors with family and friends.
Environmental advocates and residents are worried the property may potentially become less accessible to the public due to a pending $40 million sale of the property to venture group Calverton Aviation and Technology, which wants to use the land to expand operations for co-partner Luminati Aerospace.
Christine Hawkins, a member of EPCAL Watch and organizer for the event, said the future of the property was something she wanted to make sure was protected for generations of Long Islanders to come.
“There’s a whole world out here, and it would really be nice if it can remain preserved for our children and be a safe place for them to go,” said Hawkins.