DEC under fire over lack of controlled burns

Long Island's Pine Barrens have become a virtual tinderbox lately due to the lack of rain and humidity, but critics say one state agency could

FARMINGVILLE - Long Island's Pine Barrens have become a virtual tinderbox lately due to the lack of rain and humidity, but critics say one state agency could have done more to potentially curb the wildfires that have sparked in the area.The state's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is under fire for not performing enough controlled burns, in which forest rangers intentionally set small brush fires to burn off excess branches and trees.The Pine Barren Society is faulting the DEC for not doing enough of these burns, and suggests cuts to the agency's budget and workforce have meant less burns. The society is urging the agency to act quickly, before more wildfires spark.Brookhaven Supervisor Mark Lesko agrees, saying everything possible should be done to prevent more fires, including more controlled burns.DEC Regional Director Peter Scully says while the agency has taken cuts, it did perform some burns on Long Island last month. He says the DEC remains committed to dealing with forest fires.New wildfire burning in ManorvilleOfficials: Fire on SUNY Old Westbury campus contained Officials: Suffolk wildfires out, investigation beginsFirefighters battle massive brush fire in Ridge-Manorville area

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