05/17/14 12:00pm
05/17/2014 12:00 PM
Bailie Beach in Mattituck (Credit: Carrie Miller File)

Bailie Beach in Mattituck (Credit: Carrie Miller File)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hosting a number of meetings to better understand groundwater resource needs in Nassau and Suffolk counties, in hopes of developing a wastewater management plan for the region.

On Monday, state and local officials, environmental and business leaders and researchers will be on hand discuss issues related to wastewater, septic systems and possible future solutions.

The meeting will be held from noon to 4 p.m. at Stony Brook University’s Charles B. Wang Center, according to a statement from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Representatives from the DEC , Stony Brook University, the Town of Southampton, Environmental Facilities Corporation and the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery are expected to speak.

The plan’s goal will be to increase resiliency against future storms, improve water quality and provide additional protections for Long Island’s groundwater resources, according to the release.

On May 28, discussion will be opened up to the public for an evening meeting. The public can also submit written comments at Monday’s meetings or by emailing liwaterquality@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

Information on where the May 28 meeting will be held has not yet been released.

A final meeting scheduled for June will present recommendations on how to address wastewater and septic problems to Mr. Cuomo, the release states.

05/03/14 10:00am
05/03/2014 10:00 AM
These four gators were captured in the Peconic River in April 2013. (Credit: DEC courtesy, file)

These four gators were captured in the Peconic River in April 2013. (Credit: DEC courtesy, file)

Perhaps hoping to curb a recent trend of abandoning alligators on Long Island, authorities announced this week a first-ever “amnesty day” in Suffolk County for those who illegally own exotic animals.

“People who are in possession of these animals unlawfully can turn them in to us without fear of prosecution,” said Suffolk SPCA chief Roy Gross, whose group is hosting the May 10 event with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S Department of Agriculture. “No one will be asked to give their name.”

The announcement comes about a year after state Department of Environmental Conservation officers found five alligators in the Peconic River — one of which they shot —  and several others in areas elsewhere on Long Island.

In 2012, authorities recovered nine alligators over a span of just a few weeks in Suffolk County alone.

The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Town of Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center at 249 Buckley Road in Holtsville.

Read more on alligators being found in Suffolk County.

Trained handlers will be on hand to accept the animals  from the public, officials said.

“The purpose of this effort is to get these illegally possessed animals into a controlled environment where they can be cared for properly,” Mr. Gross said.

mwhite@timesreview.com

04/25/14 8:00am
04/25/2014 8:00 AM
A mute swan mother with her cygnets in East Marion. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

A mute swan mother with her cygnets in East Marion. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Stakeholders on both sides of a life-or-death debate met in Albany last Thursday to discuss the future of the mute swan, an invasive species on the cusp of widespread population growth in New York.

There are approximately 2,200 mute swans in the state, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation, which are expected to reproduce at a rate of 13 to 20 percent annually.  (more…)

04/25/14 8:00am
(Credit: Hunter Desportes/CreativeCommons.org)

(Credit: Hunter Desportes/CreativeCommons.org)

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

Aggression toward humans and native animal species, the depletion of submerged vegetation in aquatic ecosystems and degraded water quality due to droppings are among the negative impacts of mute swan populations, environmental experts say. Those concerns have prompted the state Department of Environmental Conservation to develop a wildlife management plan aimed at greatly reducing populations.  (more…)

04/18/14 4:44pm
04/18/2014 4:44 PM

Eight men — including a former Shinnecock Indian Nation Trustee — turned themselves in to New York State police in Riverside last week after officials with the state Department Environmental Conservation said they were caught illegally harvesting elvers, baby eels often sold to buyers in Asia.

(more…)

04/02/14 7:46pm
04/02/2014 7:46 PM

T1003_deer_2_KS_C

Opponents — and supporters — of a deer cull being carried out by the United States Department of Agriculture are still waiting, and will continue to wait, for court proceedings to resume after a court date scheduled for last Friday was indefinitely delayed by a state judge, who sought more time to read up on the facts on the case before hearing both sides.

(more…)

04/01/14 7:00am
04/01/2014 7:00 AM
grossman_karl150Hands down, what is the dumbest thing the Department of Environmental Conservation has ever come up with?

How about the DEC’s plan to slaughter 2,200 beautiful, elegant, graceful birds, the total population of mute swans in New York State?

“It is real stupid,” said Larry Penny, for 28 years East Hampton Town’s director of natural resources and environmental preservation. The DEC claims it needs to kill the swans because they’re an “invasive” species.

“Nonsense,” says Mr. Penny.

They were brought to North America from Europe after the Civil War and “they’re not doing any harm.” Also, there “are natural checks on their population — raccoons and foxes take them. They’re subject to a lot of pressure,” Mr. Penny said.

Hugh Rafles, anthropology professor at The New School in an op-ed prominently featured in The New York Times last month — “Speaking Up for the Mute Swan” — wrote: “There’s a larger issue here.

The real environmental problems faced by New York State are created not by birds but by people. In the nearly 150 years that the mute swan has been among us, it has witnessed a radical decline in the extent of the state’s wildlife habitat, and in the quality of its waters and soil.”

Because “of their limited diet, mute swans are a sentinel species, concen- trating contaminants in their livers and revealing the presence of chemical toxicities in fresh water. Rather than eliminating swans, we should pay attention to their struggle to survive and what it can tell us about the state of our state.”

From the celebration of mute swans in “Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky to the ballet of mute swans gliding on Long Island ponds and bays in the summer leading a line of signets, they represent their species at its loveliest.

The DEC grew out of the state Conservation Department, established in 1911, which, in turn, replaced the Fisheries, Game and Forest Commission, formed in 1895, both mainly created to regulate hunting. The legislation creating the DEC was signed into law on the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, reflecting the upsurge of environmental consciousness in the state and the U.S. in the 1960s.

The outrageous swan kill isn’t the only wrong-headed move by the DEC in recent times. For example, last year it issued a report on pollution from the Long Island Compost facility in Yaphank that stated: “This investigation points to the need to modify the operation practices at these facilities in order to prevent such occurrence.” Yet months later the DEC rubber-stamped a fi ve-year permit renewal for the 50-acre Sand Land operation in Noyac where comparable production of mulch is going on.

Suffolk Health Commissioner Dr. James Tomarken and Southampton Town asked the DEC to require monitoring wells be installed to check on any Sand Land pollution as a permit condition. The DEC ignored this, said Bob DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End, speaking before the Noyac Civic Council last week. “The DEC has a lot of problems,” Mr. DeLuca said. “It’s incapable of doing a lot of things.”

There have been some terrific people at the DEC. Tony Taormina, long its Long Island-based director of marine resources, was an extraordinary environmental watchdog, a crusader against DDT and a key fi gure in the 1970s involved in enacting state laws protecting wetlands.

But, overall, Mr. Penny said, the DEC has been “a mixed bag.” It’s “been generally pretty good,” but “they have so much on their plate. Their problem is they never have enough staff.” And, he added, the DEC has trouble “finishing things.”

Fortunately, the harebrained scheme to eradicate mute swans will not be moving ahead right away. There has been, rightfully, a public and official uproar. The state agency admits it has received over 1,500 comments from individuals and organizations and 16,000 letters overwhelmingly opposed to the idea and petitions with 30,000 signatures against it.

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) is co-sponsoring legislation requiring a moratorium on the plan and asking the DEC to prove the swans cause “actual damage to the environment or other species.” State Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) has introduced his own bill for a moratorium and “independent study” of the DEC’s justification.

DEC Commissioner Albert Martens now says there will soon be “a revised plan.”

Revised?

He and the DEC should pack it in now and forget about murdering swans.

03/05/14 3:20pm
03/05/2014 3:20 PM
USDA sharpshooters reportedly started culling the deer herd on private land early last week. (Credit: Mike Tessitore/Hunters for Deer)

USDA sharpshooters reportedly started culling the deer herd on private land early last week. (Credit: Mike Tessitore/Hunters for Deer)

After recent litigation against Southold Town was dismissed, opponents of a plan to cull deer on the East End using U.S. Department of Agriculture sharpshooters — a plan that’s already underway — now intend to take the state Department of Environmental Conservation to court for allowing the program to move forward.  (more…)