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Find ways to tap the sun — and save LI’s forests

An area of Long Island's pine barrens.

An area of Long Island's pine barrens. Credit: Randee Daddona

The adoption of a state budget doesn’t mean an end to the controversy over 60 acres of Mastic woods cut down for a solar farm. That drags on, as state officials and the private landowner continue to pursue a deal with Brookhaven Town to return 20 of those acres to nature by leasing 20 acres at the town’s landfill for solar panels. Let’s try to not blow this again.

Still, the budget did provide some unambiguous good news. It preserved nearly 1,100 acres of woods, including more than 800 acres of pristine forest in Shoreham that will become part of the pine barrens core preservation area. It also requires Suffolk County to inventory all places in Brookhaven suitable for similar solar projects with sensible criteria — properties of at least five acres, zoned for industry or business, previously cleared or disturbed, including state and municipal property — to avoid this sort of fiasco in the future.