WOODBURY - A new report released by a local environmental group accuses Suffolk County of dragging its feet on the issue of open space preservation, and by doing so, putting drinking water at risk.
Dick Amper, of the Pine Barrens Society, says since County Executive Steve Levy (R-Suffolk) came into power, his administration has only preserved 500 acres of open space on average per year.
Amper warns that if this trend continues, Long Island will only have preserved 17,000 acres by the time all open space and farmland runs out, which is expected to happen in 2020.
The goal was to protect and preserve at least 35,000 acres.
Amper claims everyone should be interested in preserving open space because not doing so could jeopardize drinking water.
Responding to the criticism, Suffolk Planning Director Sarah Lansdale says the county spent $77 million in open space acquisitions last year, mostly funded by a .25 percent sales tax approved by voters. She says the county put together its own study, which revealed that there are only about 18,000 acres of land that need to be preserved.
"We have asked Dick Amper and other environmentalist to show us where those properties are, and to date they have not done so," she says.