Fourth Annual Long Island Natural History Conference
























The Southern Pine Beetle Infestation in Long Island’s Forests:
Status and Trends

John D. Wernet, Supervising Forester, Division of Lands and Forests, NYSDEC–Region 1
John W. Pavacic, Executive Director, Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission

The Southern Pine Beetle, a diminutive insect no larger than an uncooked grain of rice, has wreaked havoc in Long Island’s forests and woodlands since it was initially discovered here in the fall of 2014.  Hundreds of acres of pitch pines and other evergreens have been killed by this organism since that time, especially in its epicenter ‑ the 105,000-acre Central Pine Barrens region of Suffolk County.  A response and management effort, led by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and supported by the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission, and assisted by a number of other local, county, state, and federal agencies and organizations, was initiated soon after the beetle’s detection.  A multi-pronged approach, including aerial and field identification and characterization, monitoring and forest management, has been implemented to address this infestation.  This presentation will provide an overview of Southern Pine Beetle biology, the state of current science, response efforts and methodologies utilized to combat this species on Long Island, results obtained thus far, research efforts, management issues, and strategies and future trends.

John Wernett has an Associate’s Degree in forest technology from SUNY ESF Ranger School and Bachelor's in Forest Resource Management from SUNY ESF main campus. He worked as a contracting forester for the US Forest Service for 7 years and in over ten states. After working for the US Forest Service, John took a procurement forester position with a hardwood lumber company. He’s grateful, he was offered the Forester position at Region 1, and he’s been with the NYS DEC for 2 years. Email:

John Pavacic holds a BS from Union College and a MS from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. Currently, Mr. Pavacic works as the Executive Director of the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission which is charged with the protection, preservation and management of the 105,000-acre Central Pine Barrens area. Prior to this, Mr. Pavacic was Commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation. He also served as the Regional Permit Administrator and chief of the Division of Environmental Permits for the Region 1 (Long Island) office of the NYSDEC and with the Brookhaven’s Division of Environmental Protection as Assistant Environmental Protection Director and Environmental Planner. He has been a lecturer and presenter on SEQRA administration, environmental regulatory program implementation, environmental compliance and enforcement, natural resource protection, wildfire prevention and management, and public ethics at a variety of seminars, meetings, forums, workshops and continuing legal education courses. Email: