Walt Olsen is the president of Civil Property Associates, Inc., an organization of over 300 members which was formed to secure just compensation to owners of land in the Long Island Pine Barrens Preserve, created by legislation passed by the New York State Legislature in 1993. The property owners in the Long Island Barrens found themselves, with few exceptions, denied any use of their land, with a promise of "compensation" through a complicated system of transferable development rights and haphazard purchases through a land trust offering a fraction of value. The property owners are under financial pressure to drop their land for taxes, which have not been reduced even though the land is in limbo. The property owners organized as Civil Property Rights Associates, Inc. From this organization, 125 co-plaintiffs brought litigation in the Eastern District Federal Court in Brooklyn in 1996 to seek compensation. Recently, they engaged James E. Morgan of Galvin and Morgan in Delmar to move their cause forward.
Mr. Olsen and his wife Sharon own a Christmas tree farm in eastern Long Island. They used to own a small marina complex in Flanders. He was the president of the Association of Marine Industries, which represented five eastern towns on Long Island. They were successful in beating back a proposal for a federal Peconic Estuarine Sanctuary during the 1980's. Over the years, however, the program came back as the Maritime Reserve Act, which places severe restrictions on use of the shoreline and Peconic Bay.