OP-ED

Earth Day isn’t only one day a year

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On beaches and in parks, green spaces and backyards across Long Island—and around the world—countless friends and neighbors came together last week to mark the annual Spring celebration known as Earth Day. Started in 1970, Earth Day is time of reflection, and also action, on ways every individual can make a difference both in your neighborhood and for our planet.

But caring for our environment isn’t just a one-day concern. I’m looking forward to joining with volunteers in another South Shore tradition of sprucing up one of our favorite local green spaces, on Saturday, May 7th, at the Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park in Great River.

Starting at 9 a.m., we’ll work to remove litter and winter damage to help ready the park for nearly a half million visitors expected this year. All are welcome!

But whether it’s the Arboretum or any of New York’s more than 200 other state parks and outdoor attractions, we’re always seeking ways to protect our open spaces. This year, that included passage of an historic environmental bond act.

More than ever, following two years of pandemic lockdowns, New Yorkers are seeking to reconnect with outdoor spaces, and the bond act, which is subject to voter approval this fall, would fund improvements to our parks, trails and beaches, preserve open spaces, clean up toxic former industrial sites and more.

Here on Long Island, funds from the bond act and a newly expanded state Environmental Protection Fund can be used for critical infrastructure to harden our beaches against storms and erosion and protect our sole source drinking water supply.

Water quality issues are always foremost on my mind. A recent survey found worrying concentrations of chemicals in some of the more than 50,000 private wells that serve homeowners in Suffolk County. I’m drafting legislation that will help homeowners find and pay for regular testing to ensure that their drinking water is safe.

Whether it’s writing legislation to help ensure clean drinking water for the next generation, volunteering a few hours to help with our May 7th cleanup at Bayard Cutting Arboretum (or at your favorite park or beach), or just taking steps to make your backyard a little more “environmentally friendly,” there’s something everyone can do to mark Earth Day—every day.

For more information about our Arboretum cleanup event, call my office at (631) 360-3356, or visit
weik.nysenate.gov.

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