Office of the County Executive

Robert J. Gaffney
County Executive
Eric A. Kopp
Chief Deputy County Executive

Press Releases Archive

Jun 26, 1998
(631) 853-4000
50th Abandoned Car Lifted Out Of The Pine Barrens
Gaffney's "Eye in the Sky" Program Hailed as a Success

Today in the Riverside-Flanders area in the Central Pine Barrens in the Town of Southampton, Suffolk County Executive Robert J. Gaffney and several local officials watched as a helicopter from the New York Army National Guard airlifted an abandoned car out of a heavily wooded area.

"What makes this event a milestone," said Gaffney, "is that this is the 50th car that the Guard has taken out of the Pine Barrens. And under our 'Eye in the Sky' program, the Guard will continue to look for these wrecks, and when they find them, they'll remove them."

The Eye in the Sky program officially began in May of 1996. Because of a prior agreement, the Guard was allowed to fly training missions over the Pine Barrens. They, in turn, would look out for incidents of illegal dumping, or areas where large items had been dumped. If they found any, they'd notify the County.

In the case of abandoned cars in heavily wooded areas, a problem existed. How could the County get a flatbed truck into these areas and extract the vehicle? It was Colonel Frank Intini of the Guard who came up with the solution.

Using a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, Guard personnel would hover over the car. A specially designed sling would be lowered from the helicopter. On the ground, Guard members would attach the sling to the wreck, and the helicopter would pick it up and bring it to a disposal site.

"The people of our County have chosen, time and again, to invest in the protection of our drinking water supply by preserving the Central Pine Barrens," said Gaffney. Of the 52,000 acres in the core area, about 10 percent remains to be protected. As we move closer and closer to the completion of our acquisitions, the importance of protecting the land, and the drinking water beneath it, becomes more and more important."

Gaffney stressed that the cooperation between the State, County and Towns has been critical to the success of protecting and preserving environmentally sensitive acreage throughout Suffolk County. The Guard's assistance in this effort is a prime example of the newly formalized "guardHELP" Program announced by Governor Pataki earlier this year whereby the Guard would interact with the local governments on projects important to both.

Finally, "I can't say enough about Colonel Intini and his Guardsmen," Gaffney continued. "They understand the fragile nature of the Pine Barrens, and they are committed environmentalists as well. A rotting hulk of a car, in all likelihood containing pollutants such as motor oil and gasoline, certainly poses a threat to our drinking water. By removing them, the Guard is providing a great service to the residents of our County, and I most gratefully thank them.


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