Long Island Official: Budget Cutbacks Imperil Woodlands, More "Prescribed Burns" Needed

A town supervisor says struggling municipalities have cut spending on controlled burns

Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012  |  Updated 8:56 PM EDT
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
A Long Island official says budget cutbacks of

NBC New York

A Long Island official says budget cutbacks of "prescribed burns" have helped imperil thousands of acres of woodlands during brush fires in recent days. Greg Cergol reports.

advertisement
Photos and Videos

VIDEO: Battling Long Island Fire

Severe brush fires broke out April 9 in Suffolk County on Long Island. This is raw video of firefighters battling those fires.

Brush Fire Forces Evacuations on Long Island

Flames flared up in Manorville for the second time in a little more than a week. On Tuesday, Long Island Reporter Greg Cergol joined volunteer firefighters who tackled the fire.
More Photos and Videos

A Long Island official says budget cutbacks of "prescribed burns" have helped imperil thousands of acres of woodlands during brush fires in recent days.

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko is calling for a "six-figure" reinvestment in the program.

Lesko says forestry experts advise conducting burns of underbrush as a way to prevent widespread damage from uncontrolled forest fires.

He says municipalities struggling with tight budgets have cut spending on the burns. He says that trend needs to be reversed.

"We should be doing everything possible to try and contain and control these types of fires," Lesko told NBC New York.

Last week, more than 1,000 acres of Long Island Pine Barrens were charred, and buildings were destroyed.

A second fire on Tuesday damaged more than 100 acres and imperiled hundreds of nearby homes. A day care center and 300 homes were evacuated before the blaze was contained, just south of the Long Island Expressway near exit 69.

Drought conditions, along with strong winds, have created hazardous conditions across the metropolitan region.

The closest location to the burned areas that keeps rainfall data is Islip MacArthur Airport, about 20 miles away. As of Tuesday morning, the airport was 8.5 inches below normal rainfall for 2012.

The regional director of the state's Department of Environmental Conservation defended its burn program on Wednesday.

"We did do prescribed burns on Long Island in the month of March and we are committed to using that as one of the tools to limit fire danger," said Peter Scully.

Greg Cergol contributed to this story

Get the latest from NBC 4 New York anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Sign up for email newsletters here. Get breaking news delivered right to your phone -- just text NYBREAKING to 639710. For more info, text HELP. To end, text STOP. Message and data rates may apply.

Get the latest headlines sent to your inbox!
View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print
Leave Comments
What's New
Follow us on Instagram!
We post photos taken by our news... Read more
Follow Us
Sign up to receive news and updates that matter to you.
Send Us Your Story Tips
Check Out