A Ridge man illegally dumped landscaping material, debris from construction and demolition projects and other trash in the ecologically fragile pine barrens more than 10 times in two months, state officials said Wednesday.

State police on Monday charged Jody A. Whisnevsky, 46, with 11 counts of unlawful dumping under the Brookhaven Town code and 11 counts of off-road operation of a four-wheel-drive vehicle on public property, the state Pine Barrens Commission wrote in a news release.

Illegal dumping carries a maximum penalty of a $25,000 fine and one year in jail, officials said.

"Dumping in our central pine barrens threatens the quality of life and the environment of this treasured resource," Brookhaven Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, a member of the Long Island Pine Barrens Commission, said in a statement. "I applaud the efforts of our enforcement team who continue to deter not only illegal dumping but also other illegal activity like unlawful operation of ATVs, as well as unpermitted development, encroachment and clearing."

Efforts to reach Whisnevsky were unsuccessful. He is scheduled to appear on March 25 in Sixth District Court in Patchogue, pine barrens Chief Enforcement Officer Tim Huss said in an interview Thursday.

State police and pine barrens law enforcement officers spotted Whisnevsky using his pickup truck to dump construction and demolition debris, insulation, household refuse and landscaping material 11 times from Sept. 17 to Nov. 15, officials said.

Huss said Whisnevsky dumped material in more than one location, but mostly in wooded areas in Yaphank off Exit 66 of the Long Island Expressway.

Long Island officials in recent years have stepped up enforcement of illegal dumping after Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood was closed for three years following the discovery of contaminated material there in 2014.

Pine Barrens Commission executive director John Pavacic said police investigated nearly three dozen illegal dumping complaints in 2020, adding the incidents that led to Whisnevsky’s arrest were "particularly egregious."

The investigations last year have "led to the apprehension of eight individuals this year for despoiling the spectacular central pine barrens region," Pavacic said in a statement, adding that several other investigations are ongoing.

The pine barrens are spread over 108,000 acres in the towns of Brookhaven, Riverhead and Southampton. The area is protected by a 1993 state law that bars overdevelopment and sets aside "core" regions for open-space preservation.

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