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Jun 29, 2016 10:52 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Town To Start Southern Pine Beetle Task Force

Jun 29, 2016 12:51 PM

Southampton Town officials are working on starting a task force to combat issues caused by southern pine beetles, tiny insects that wiped out thousands of trees on the South Fork last year alone.

At the Town Board’s work session on June 16, Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he met with officials from the State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Pine Barrens Commission—on which he serves because he is supervisor—to discuss the beetle. He explained that there were concerns about the prevalence of the beetle in Southampton Town and how the species has led to many trees needing to be cut down because they were killed.

“The largest infestations are here in Southampton. A lot of it’s in that Flanders area, but it’s also in East Quogue,” Mr. Schneiderman said, referring to the town as “Ground Zero” for southern pine beetle infestations.

The supervisor said it was suggested that the town form a task force consisting of several town officials, as land throughout the municipality is managed by different departments. He added that the DEC and the Pine Barrens Commission have many resources to which the town could refer when exploring different methods to eliminate the species, including funds, and that a memorandum of understanding would be executed so that the commission could assist the town.

“It wouldn’t give them the right to do anything, but to work with us in providing that scientific expertise,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “We would establish a southern pine beetle task force, and we would put [various town officials] on it.”

The tiny insects, which are native to southern states, burrow tunnels behind the bark of trees. The tunnels of air they leave in their tracks block the flow of nutrients to parts of the tree and allow the growth of fungus, which the beetles feed on, but which also can eventually kill a tree.

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Please let this be real, I lost over 30 mature black pines as did my neighbors. It changed the character of our neighborhood.
By Summer Resident (245), Southampton N.Y. on Jun 30, 16 3:03 AM
Thousands? More like tens of thousands! Hampton Bays and Shinnecock Hills are also heavily hit. If you have any tall pine on your property, you had better have the bottom ten feet of trunk sprayed, or chances are you will lose it. I'm no tree hugger, but this is a sad and tragic situation.
By Zorro (66), Southampton on Jun 30, 16 11:52 PM
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