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Long Island

Environmental group unveils website for threatened species

Developed by the Group for the East End, the site has data on the status of 597 species statewide and 366 considered of ‘greatest conservation need.’

Robert DeLuca, president of Group for the East

Robert DeLuca, president of Group for the East End, explaining the website on Thursday. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Working to raise awareness about hundreds of threatened species across Long Island and the state, an environmental group has announced an initiative to make the State Wildlife Action Plan available live, online.

Developed by the Group for the East End with state data and original content, the site, at www.nyswap.org, offers up-to-date information from the action plan about the status of 597 species statewide and 366 considered of “greatest conservation need.”

Of those, 166 are considered high-priority species, said Robert DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End, which introduced the website at the Hallock State Park in Jamesport on Thursday.

The Pine Barrens Society, the Nature Conservancy, and the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society also attended in support of the program.

“It just really struck me that even though I was in this business for how many years, I just really never connected the dots to say it’s not just like there are four or five endangered species we have to worry about here,” DeLuca said. “There’s an entire regional ecosystem that’s showing signs of stress.”

The Long Island Community Foundation provided support for the effort.

The most threatened species are “not doing so well” and “may not be here in 10 years if we don’t help them out,” DeLuca said.

Among those featured on the site: the American black duck, hard clam, box turtle, piping plover, barn owl and horseshoe crab.

The group has designed the site to “inspire individual action, private and governmental cooperation, innovative management and restoration projects, and an appreciation for the remarkable and vulnerable wildlife diversity that we have enjoyed and relied upon for centuries.”

State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) noted that the project comes at a time when the public is “more into protecting the habitat” and are “more sensitive about the environment.”

“You have my full support,” he said.

Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) said the initiative was important, educating the public about the status of threatened species and efforts to save them.

Carrie Meek Gallagher, regional director on Long Island for the Department of Environmental Conservation, applauded the effort, noting that the state “relies heavily on our partners for conservation.” Much of the monitoring and care of threatened species, she noted, is done by private entities such as the Group for the East End.

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