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Daily Newscasts

Hot Day Today, But New Report Says Progress on Open Space...Not So Hot

May 20, 2009

New York, NY — It's beach weather today, and many New Yorkers are headed to the Hamptons and other area beaches. But a new report warns that local governments are not keeping up with their 10-year plan to make sure Long Island has quality open space for all to enjoy.

About 10 million people vacation on Long Island each year. Kevin McDonald, director of public lands for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) on Long Island says some open spaces are being protected - just not enough of them.

"The county and the towns and the state need to be acquiring about 3,500 acres a year, and this year they're barely at 1,800 acres. That's cause for concern, even though we understand that things are tough right now."

McDonald says developers continue to gobble up land, and that means local governments need to keep pace if they want to make sure Long Island will have quality open space, farms, parks and beaches in the years to come.

Some local developers have questioned whether local governments still can afford to invest in open space. McDonald says a poll TNC conducted last month found that despite the economic downturn, eight in 10 Long Islanders believe that local government should spend at least the same amount - if not more - to preserve open space on the island.

The ultimate goal of TNC's "Long Island's Last Stand" program is to protect 25,000 acres of open land and 10,000 acres of farm land. He says poll after poll show that local residents support such projects in order to protect Long Island's food and water supplies and quality of life.

"Long Islanders want their farm lands protected, because they realize they are diminishing rapidly. And they want high quality parks and park experiences, both for themselves and future generations — they think they have that obligation."

McDonald says the current tight credit market actually gives local governments a fighting chance to catch up with developers. Right now, local government land acquisition programs can offer a lifeline to sellers who are not finding many buyers.

More information about the poll and "Long Island's Last Stand" is at

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY