An exciting and insightful exhibit on the ecological and cultural history of the Pine Barrens entitled “Barren and Waste Land: Long Islanders and the Pine Barrens,” is open to the public from July through September 30, 2013 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday in the lobby of the Evans K. Griffing building in the Riverhead County Center.
The exhibit, sponsored by the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission, in conjunction with its partners, the Suffolk County Historical Society (which also developed the exhibit) and the County of Suffolk, explores the rich past of Long Island’s key wilderness area. Topics explored include the glacial origin of the Pine Barrens during the last Ice Age and the dry, acidic and nutrient-poor soils found in much of the area which helped shape the types of habitats found there. Other subjects consist of the influence of humans on the evolution of the Pine Barrens over thousands of years. Portions of the exhibit investigate the selective use of fire by Indigenous Americans, the earliest inhabitants of the Pine Barrens, to improve habitat for game while other sections examine various industries which developed after European colonization to take advantage of the abundant natural resources found in the Pine Barrens, including harvesting of native wild berries, cultivation of cranberries, cordwood cutting, ice harvesting and brick making.