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State environmental agency buys 38 acres in Manorville

The DEC has purchased 38 acres in the

The DEC has purchased 38 acres in the pine barrens in Manorville, seen here on April 12, 2012. Credit: Randee Daddona

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has purchased a 38-acre parcel in the pine barrens that expands public lands and recreational green space while helping to preserve Long Island’s drinking water resources, officials announced Wednesday.

The agency paid the state’s Environmental Protection Fund $945,000 for the former Cascone property in Manorville, DEC officials said, adding that the now-vacant wetlands area has been on the agency’s wish list since 2000.

“One of Governor Cuomo’s key priorities is protecting and preserving public drinking water source areas,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “The purchase of the Cascone property helps ensure this goal while at the same time greatly expanding recreational opportunities on both state and nearby Suffolk County-owned lands.”

The property, which has been the subject of negotiations since 2010, sits within the Core Preservation Area of the Central Pine Barrens. New development in such environmentally sensitive areas is prohibited to protect the quality and safety of Long Island’s sole-source drinking water aquifer, officials said in a news release.

The parcel, which will become part of the DEC’s Otis Pike Preserve, is located north of the Long Island Expressway and east of Wading River Road in Manorville. It abuts land owned by Suffolk County and includes a 4-acre pond and freshwater wetlands in the watershed of the Peconic River, officials said.

The DEC said it will be managed as an “outdoor recreational resource for hunting, hiking and nature enjoyment,” officials said.

The pond is a documented breeding area for the eastern tiger salamander, one of the largest terrestrial salamanders in the United States and a species on the state’s endangered list. The property also has rare plants, including rose coreopsis, stargrass, narrow-leaved bush clover and trinerved white boneset.

The acquisition is among the types of projects outlined in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2016 Open Space Conservation Plan, officials said. The transaction was approved by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli in January.

Lawmakers including state Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), state Assembs. Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and Fred W. Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor), Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean M. Walter and Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman praised the move in statements accompanying the announcement.

“We’re thrilled,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, an advocacy group. “Every bit of land preserved is a legacy for Long Islanders and for protecting drinking water.”

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