11/13/13 2:23pm
11/13/2013 2:23 PM
Instagram photo, courtesy Department Environmental Conservation

Instagram photo courtesy of the Department of Environmental Conservation

After posting pictures of themselves on Instagram with a pair of live deer they caught, four local young men who were later caught by Department of Environmental Conservation officers in Calverton face citations for illegally taking and pursuing wildlife.

DEC officials said they were tipped off on Halloween when someone sent the two pictures to them, which were posted on the social media photo sharing website. The next day, the four men were spotted at a local business in Calverton, however it was not immediately clear at which establishment they were seen.

The four men – ranging from ages 18 to 20 – were issued citations for illegal take and pursuit of protected wildlife. Officials said 18-year-old George Salzmann of Calverton, seen holding the deer in both photos, was given three tickets — two for illegally taking and pursuing deer, and one more for having an untagged deer head at his home.

Conor Lingerfelt, 19, of Jamesport, was given two citations for illegally taking and pursuing deer. He is spotted in both photos with Mr. Salzmann, officials said. Joseph Sacchitello, 20, of Riverhead, and Anthony Infantolino, 20, of Wading River, were each charged once. DEC officials said one of the photos has all four individuals with one stressed deer.

According to DEC spokeswoman Aphrodite Montalvo, one deer had been trapped inside a fence when Mr. Salzmann and Mr. Lingerfelt wrangled it. The other, she said, was tracked down on Hulse Landing Road in Wading River by the four men. She said as they drove their vehicle parallel to the deer alongside deer fence on the road, they cut off the deer and trapped it between the vehicle and the fence. They were then able to hop out and catch it.

Both deer were apparently brought back to Infantolino’s house in Wading River. Ms. Montalvo said both deer involved in the incidents were released unharmed.

“The pursuit and capture of native wildlife is not tolerated in New York State,” said DEC Regional Director Peter Scully. “Although these young men may have thought their actions were harmless and trivial, serious consequences can occur due to these types of actions. Wildlife can be dangerous and unpredictable, and DEC’s environmental conservation offices deserve recognition for their successful pursuit of this case.”

The four men are due in Riverhead justice court on Nov. 27. Each offense carries a $250 fine.

Individuals who spot illegal activities are encouraged to call DEC’s Environmental Conservation Police at (631) 444-0250 during business hours, and 1-877-457-5680 or 1-800-TIPP-DEC at all other times to report suspected illegal activities.

Instagram photo, courtesy Department Environmental Conservation

Instagram photo courtesy of the Department of Environmental Conservation

07/26/13 8:00am
07/26/2013 8:00 AM

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | The Peconic Baykeeper is taking legal action against the state parks department and Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Peconic Baykeeper is taking legal action against the state parks department and Department of Environmental Conservation, saying they haven’t done enough to address sewage discharge pollution wreaking havoc on the bay waters they’re charged with protecting.

Last Tuesday, Peconic Baykeeper president Kevin McAllister announced his intent to sue the state parks department in federal court for failing to have sewage discharge permits for five state-operated facilities, including Wildwood State Park in Wading River. The advocacy group also filed a separate suit in state court against the state DEC May 30.

The discharge permit program is intended to control water pollutants — like nitrogen, which feeds bay-harming algal blooms — by regulating sources of pollutant discharge into U.S. waters, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency website.

“Wildwood on a hot July day, those parking lots are going to be filled,” Mr. McAllister said. “Some 1,000 toilet flushes a day are going into groundwater, going to bays.”

He said that Wildwood and other state parks are examples of areas where “wastewater discharge is not being adequately addressed, by virtue of the absence of any kind of permits.”

Permits became mandatory following the passage of the federal Clean Water Act in 1972, which requires facilities discharging pollutants into U.S. waters to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

In New York, the state DEC regulates permits and discharging pollutants without a permit is illegal, according to the EPA website.

Mr. McAllister said SUNY/Stony Brook’s Southampton campus — run by the state and home to the East End’s premier water quality research program — also lacks the required permit.

“They are here to identify and save the bays, when their own campus is not committed to clean water from wastewater discharges,” he said.

He added that the water quality researchers do not deserve the blame but SUNY/Stony Brook Southampton should be setting the standard for clean water.

“If they are the preeminent marine scientists and research center on protecting our waters, they have to walk the walk,” he said.

A Stony Brook spokesperson declined comment for this story.

In a press release, Peconic Baykeeper attorney Reed Super said the “DEC has failed to comply with the legal mandates of the Clean Water Act and state law, both of which require strict permit limits on the discharge of nitrogen, in order to protect water quality.”

The lawsuit filed in May charges that the state DEC failed to enforce permitting and regulation of the state parks, the Southampton campus and more than 1,300 sewage treatment plants and facilities. Mr. McAllister said these facilities all lack NPDES permits and some of their septic systems do not meet current wastewater standards.

Several of these facilities are on the North Fork, including the Enterprise Park at Calverton, Splish Splash Water Park, Southold Junior-Senior High School and Southold Town Hall, according to a petition Peconic Baykeeper sent to the state DEC.

“The DEC is the regulator for wastewater discharges,” Mr. McAllister said. “Our argument is there are inadequate regulations and deficient enforcement to provide for surface water protection.”

State DEC officials said that while they do not comment on pending litigation, the “DEC has a long history in working to address water quality on Long Island, recognizing the region’s reliance on a primary aquifer and the importance of high quality surface water to the local population. To achieve this goal, DEC has established rigorous restrictions on landfills, identified and protected special groundwater protection areas, and is in the process of implementing a pollution prevention strategy to address pesticides.”

By going after bigger state facilities, Mr. McAllister said, he hopes to drive the discussion toward widespread regulatory reform of wastewater discharges, particularly nitrogen.

Currently the nitrogen standard for drinking water protection is 10 milligrams of nitrogen per liter, or ten parts per million. Mr. McAllister said he would like to see regulations change to the ecological standard, .45 milligrams of nitrogen per liter, commonly agreed upon by experts.

“The state of New York and Suffolk County have been dragging their feet and ignoring the fact that they need to refine these standards to protect our bays,” Mr. McAllister said. “I think our region and Suffolk County in general does not recognize the urgency of this condition.”

Federal law requires 90 days advance notice of any intent to sue. The suit against the parks department cannot be filed before October, Mr. Super said.

The actions Peconic Baykeeper has filed against the state DEC and parks department are being undertaken in partnership with Long Island Soundkeeper, based in Connecticut.

cmiller@timesreview.com

07/19/13 12:00pm
07/19/2013 12:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Neighbors have been complaining about noise and ground shaking near Gershow Recycling on Hubbard Avenue.

Residents of the Riverhaven manufactured home park on Hubbard Avenue say noise from the adjacent Gershow Recycling business is shaking their homes.

Seeking some peace, residents there met with Riverhead Councilman John Dunleavy last Thursday in the meeting room of Riverwoods mobile home park in Riverside to voice their complaints. (Both parks are owned by Kingsley Management Corp. of Utah.)

“The ground vibrates over there,” said John Peck, who manages both parks. “I know it does because I was standing out there and I felt it. It was like an earthquake. It’s shaking the homes off their foundations. It’s actually causing things to fall off their walls. It’s not right. These people were here first.”

“I hear that big bang constantly,” said Richard Weiss, who lives on First Street in the park. “I live in a new home, it’s five years old, and it shakes the house.”

An attorney for Gershow said the company is aware of the complaints and is taking steps to address the noise problems.

Gershow Recycling, which is based in Medford and has a number of sites on Long Island, bought the former Fred J. Gallo Used Auto Parts site on Hubbard Avenue in 2012 to continue to operate an “end of life vehicle recycling facility,” as Gershow termed it on a state Department of Environmental Conservation application.

But nearby residents say there was never any noise when Gallo owned the site, whereas, since Gershow has taken over, they now hear loud booming sounds all the time.

In August 2012, the Riverhead Town planning department determined that Gershow’s plan to take over the Gallo site was “de minimus,” meaning it did not require a site plan application or a site plan amendment from the Planning Board.

The state DEC required Gershow to get a freshwater wetland permit, build a retaining wall and regrade the site to prevent rainwater runoff from going into Saw Mill Creek.

Peter Danowski, a Gershow attorney, said in an interview Tuesday that Gershow has already taken a step toward reducing the noise. The company had been using a crane with metal treads, which made a lot of noise on the concrete ground, and has just spend $367,000 for a new crane with rubber treads, Mr. Danowski said.

Greshow also plans to place metal containers along the property line to buffer the noise, Mr. Danowski said. If the containers don’t work, the company will try other solutions until it finds something that does work, he assured.

“We start with a couple of containers near a neighbor, and then talk to that neighbor and see if stopped the noise,” Mr. Danowski said.

Mr. Dunleavy told the Riverhaven residents that as long as Gershow is following town code, “there’s nothing we can do about this,” other than trying to level with them and have both sides agree to be good neighbors.

Recently released campaign finance disclosure filings show that both Mr. Dunleavy and Councilwoman Jodi Giglio received campaign contributions from Gershow’s owners.

Mr. Dunleavy said he plans to work with Gershow to resolve the noise problem for residents.

Gershow has received complaints about noise and shaking from neighbors of its Medford location as well, according to news reports from over 30 years ago.

In the late 1980s, residents near a Gershow facility in Medford said it caused their homes to shake, created noxious fumes and periodically “exploded” with a sound resembling an airplane crash, according to a Newsday article at the time.

Gershow later reached an out-of-court settlement with those residents, who had gone to state Supreme Court to stop the operation.

tgannon@timesreview.com

07/16/13 6:55pm
07/16/2013 6:55 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Members of the public packed Town Hall Tuesday night.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Members of the public packed Town Hall Tuesday night.

The Riverhead Town Board Tuesday night listened to suggestions on how best to plan and accurately assess the environmental impacts of the town’s proposed 50-lot subdivision and re-use plan for the former Grumman site now called the Enterprise Park at Calverton.

The EPCAL scoping hearing’s purpose was to seek input on potential issues should be examined in the upcoming environmental study of the town’s plans for town-owned land that has sat undeveloped at the site.

CLICK TO READ THE ‘SCOPING’ DOCUMENTS

The hearing happened during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting and kicked off at 7:30 p.m. to a packed audience in the Town Board meeting room, though most of the audience members were union workers.

News-Review reporter Tim Gannon reported live from the meeting.

Click the blog box below to see what transpired.

CLICK HERE FOR MEETING AGENDA

07/09/13 8:00am
07/09/2013 8:00 AM
Coyote

DUANE ARNISTER PHOTO | The DEC has confirmed this photo taken in Water Mill is of a coyote.

Speaking before the Southold Town Board in August 2011, Fishers Island resident Charles Kadushin said his cat had been missing for months and he believed coyotes living on the island were to blame.

While Fishers Island is a part of Southold Town, its location 15 miles off the North Fork meant there was little danger of the coyote population spreading to the East End, where state Department of Environmental Conservation officials say the mammal hadn’t been spotted in more than a century.

Now, two years later, a photo depicting a coyote walking across a farm field on Blank Lane in Water Mill has erased that statistic. The New York State DEC confirmed last week the animal shown in the photograph is a coyote and that an investigation has since been launched.

“Investigators have gone out to tour the site,” said DEC spokesman Bill Fonda. “[They’re looking] for scat, paw marks or anything the coyote may have been eating.”

Mr. Fonda said the first attempt by DEC officials to track down the coyote and its possible pack was unsuccessful last Wednesday, and no paw marks were visible, though he said the search began one week after the photograph was taken and it had rained for several days in between. He added that investigators will continue to search the area for the animal periodically.

While the coyotes living on Fishers Island are believed to have arrived by swimming two miles from Connecticut, where state officials say coyotes have been a part of the ecosystem since the mid-1950s, it is unclear how a coyote might have found its way to the South Fork.

Mr. Kadushin said Monday that coyotes can still be heard howling at the sound of Fishers Island’s noon whistle each and every day, believes the Water Mill sighting is not connected to his hometown of 236 year-round residents.

“That would be impossible,” he said. “The current’s just too strong.”

Mr. Fonda said DEC officials also believe there is no way the coyote seen in Water Mill could have come from Fishers Island and while there have been sightings in Queens in recent years there have not been reports of the animal in Nassau County, making it unlikely the coyote traveled all the way from the city.

In order to swim from Connecticut to the North Fork, the coyote would have to swim close to 10 miles, also an unlikely feat for animals that experts say can typically swim about a half-mile at a time.

“Maybe it was somebody’s pet at some point and it escaped,” Mr. Fonda theorized.

Coyotes were one of the animals included on a furbearers survey released by the DEC in May, in which Suffolk residents were asked to report a physical description, location, habitat and to send a photograph when spotting an unusual mammal.

Mr. Fonda said the local DEC district has received many photographs of foxes but last week’s coyote photo was the first of its kind.

“Until now they had been seen on Fishers Island and Queens but that’s it,” he said.

In the two years since he approached the Town Board, Mr. Kadushin said no research has been conducted to determine the coyote population on Fishers Island, where they’ve been known to kill many household and feral cats.

“There’s no way to tell how many there are here,” he said. “They tag and track them in other places. That’s not being done here.”

gparpan@timesreview.com

A map of the farm field where a coyote was spotted in Water Mill more than a week ago.

06/25/13 3:00pm
06/25/2013 3:00 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | DEC officials announce funding to repair a canoe launch in Riverhead.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is designating millions of dollars in funding toward improving recreation areas and the North Fork is expected to reap the benefits.

In recognition of Great Outdoors Month New York, state Department of Environmental Conservation regional director Peter Scully announced $950,000 for outdoor recreation projects in Riverhead and Southold.

The funding derives from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Works II program and the Environmental Protection Fund, which provides money for expanding and improving access for recreational activities on public lands.

Of the total funding, $750,000 will be used to repair the Peconic River dam and a canoe launch off of Edwards Avenue in Riverhead.

The remaining $200,000 will go toward designing a boat ramp at a public waterway access on Peconic Bay near the site of the former Old Barge restaurant just off Route 25 in Southold.

cmurray@timesreview.com

06/17/13 1:27pm
06/17/2013 1:27 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | DEC officers hunting for the alligator Friday.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | DEC officers hunting for the alligator Friday.

The alligator that’s been living in the Peconic River and eluded capture for more than a week was located and euthanized Sunday in Calverton.

The gator was killed about 25 yards down river from the state Department of Environmental Conservation kayak and canoe launch site off Connecticut Avenue.

The gator was killed by a single shot fired by a DEC conservation officer, a DEC spokesman said.

“Dart guns do not work on cold-blooded creatures,” said the spokesman, Bill Fonda.

Officers had been spotting and trying to capture the 3-foot long alligator alive for about a week near the boat ramp, Mr. Fonda said.

“As an option of last resort, the alligator was euthanized on Sunday in the interest of public safety,” he said. “Tranquilizing the alligator was not an option as the animal could still have evaded capture and returned to the water, continuing to pose a public safety threat. DEC has re-opened the canoe site.”

The boat ramp had been closed to the public during the search.

A DEC officer at the scene Friday said they hoped to catch the gator alive, if possible, but that proved too dangerous, Mr. Fonda said.

“DEC officers and staff used baited hooks, nets and catch poles in an attempt to capture the animal,” Mr. Fonda said.. “All these attempts proved futile.

Officials have said the gator was probably a pet that someone turned loose, and they have stressed owning an alligator is illegal in New York State.

The DEC in April found four other small alligators in the same area of the Peconic River boat ramp, and capture them alive.

tgannon@timesreview.com

DEC COURTESY PHOTO | These four gators were captured in the Peconic River Friday morning. A Manorville residents spotted the reptiles and contacted the DEC.

DEC COURTESY PHOTO | These four gators were captured in the Peconic River in April.

06/14/13 5:29pm
06/14/2013 5:29 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | DEC officer Don Damrath shows some DEC employees where he thinks the gator may be.

An elusive alligator remained on the loose Friday in Calverton as State Environmental Conservation Officers converged on the area to attempt to bait the gator.

Spotted in the Peconic River near the state boat ramp on Connecticut Avenue, the gator is estimated to be about 3 1/2 to 4 feet long, officer Donald Damrath said.

It’s the second time in less than two months a gator has been spotted in the area. Four baby gators were found in the same spot in mid-April.

Mr. Damrath spotted the gator Wednesday and another man photographed it earlier in the week. Officer Kaitlyn Grady and Lt. Frank Carbone assisted Friday in trying to lure in the gator near the ramp where a trail leading to it has been closed to the public since Wednesday. Officials believe the gator is likely still near the boat ramp.

Mr. Damrath said the gator may be dormant. Gators become dormant when temperatures reach 55 degrees and stop feeding when the temperature is about 70 degrees, he said.

The air temperature was near 70 degrees Friday but the water temperature was unknown. The gators will stay on land if it is warmer than the water, Mr. Damrath said.

The officers put some chicken down by the ramp  in an attempt to bait the gator. Mr. Damrath said the gator was likely domestic, so the trap might not work.

It’s possible that this gator was owned by the same person that owned the other four, he said.

The goal is to catch it alive if possible, he said, but cautioned, “It’s a dangerous animal.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The hunt for the gator continues Friday.