Tag Archive | "concerned citizens of montauk"

Grant for Water Testing

Tags: ,


The Eastern Long Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation was recently awarded a grant of $10,000 from the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation to expand its Blue Water Task Force water testing program.

In 2013, the Surfrider Chapter partnered with the Concerned Citizens of Montauk to establish a testing program to monitor some of the most popular swimming and surfing beaches in the community. Volunteers representing both organizations regularly collect samples from several ocean beach and bay sampling sites in Montauk and Amagansett and process the samples in a water testing lab at CCOM’s office.

The Eastern Long Island (ELI) Chapter Vice-Chairman Stephen Mahoney noted “The grant from the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation will allow us to expand our testing sites and purchase much needed equipment for the lab that will greatly reduce the use of plastics,” said the chapter’s vice chairman, Stephen Mahoney, in a release. “We will also use the grant to promote upcoming beach cleanups and our ‘Rise Above Plastics’ program, and to sponsor our 2015 Surf Movie Night Benefit For Clean Water at Guild Hall on Wednesday, August 5.”

“By all accounts, the water testing program has been a huge success,” added Jessica James, the project leader for CCOM. “We are excited to continue the partnership with Surfrider and to make our lab methods more sustainable with the purchase of an autoclave.”

The goal of the Surfrider-CCOM joint program is to provide valuable water quality information for local beaches and waterways and to raise public awareness of the environmental challenges confronting the community. Water quality data are shared with East Hampton Town and posted online on the Surfrider Foundation’s website, surfrider.org .

Thiele, LaValle Meet the Voters in Montauk

Tags: , ,

Heller_Zelden-Bishop Debate 10-19-14_9567_LR

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. addresses the Concerned Citizens of Montauk on Sunday as state Senator Kenneth P. LaValle looks on. Michael Heller photo

By Stephen J. Kotz

New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and state Senator Kenneth P. LaValle made rare appearances in this year’s campaign when the Concerned Citizens of Montauk held their annual candidates forum at the Montauk Firehouse on Sunday.

Neither Brian DeSesa, a member of the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals and a Sag Harbor attorney who is challenging Mr. Thiele on the Conservative ticket, nor Heather Collins, a Suffolk County Board of Elections official, who is running on the Republican line, attended the forum. Mr. LaValle’s opponent, Michael Conroy, a member of both the Suffolk County and Brookhaven Town Democratic committees, was also a no-show.

U.S. Representative Tim Bishop and his Republican challenger, Lee Zeldin, also spoke at the forum, with their debate largely mirroring one that took place in Westhampton Beach last week.

In asking for voters’ continued support, Mr. Thiele told the audience he was the only independent assemblyman in the legislature, and touted his work on behalf of the East End.

He cited his roles in helping East Hampton Town dig its way out of a $30 million budget deficit left by former Supervisor Bill McGintee in 2009 as well as in passing special legislation that waived fines when due to a computer glitch the town failed to send out a third of its property tax bills in a timely fashion.

Mr. Thiele said the state had submitted on-time budgets for the past four years, lowered income taxes and turned a $10 billion deficit into a $4.5 billion surplus.

“That’s not to say all our work is done, but we’ve made progress,” Mr. Thiele said.

Mr. Thiele said he was most proud of his sponsorship of the Community Preservation Fund, which, he said, has raised nearly $1 billion during its lifetime, including some $265 million this year.

Mr. LaValle said both he and Mr. Thiele are highly rated by New York Public Interest Research Group. “We are creative and aggressive in our action,” he said. “We go to Albany for you and we try do the best possible job.”

Mr. LaValle said the state’s 2-percent tax cap was helping to hold down property taxes and that the state was increasing school aid. He also pointed to his work on behalf of the Stony Brook Southampton campus, which he said would help create jobs, as well as his efforts to help shepherd through the affiliation of Southampton Hospital with Stony Brook University Hospital.

The candidates’ discussion was largely cordial, although Amos Goodman provoked the ire of Mr. Thiele when he accused him of taking part in “a sleazy bait and switch” by being a member of the Independence Party while caucusing with the Democrats, led by Assemblyman Sheldon Silver.

“I don’t want to carry the baggage of one major party or another,” replied Mr. Thiele. “I get support from Democrats, Republicans and Independents because I represent the people in my district.”

CCOM executive director Jeremy Samuelson asked the candidates what they thought about a proposal that would allow CPF money to be used to help protect water quality.

Mr. Thiele stressed that discussions were at the early stages and would require voter approval to extend the CPF for another 20 years before the fund’s focus could be expanded to include water protection. But he added that protecting water quality would fit the CPF’s mandate of protecting the East End’s character.

“We are seeing water quality problems everywhere,” he said. “We can’t buy enough land to solve this problem.”

“Many of you know I have been an open space hawk,” Mr. LaValle said of his support of efforts to protect land, which he said helps protect the quality of life and the environment. He said he would support efforts to make water protection a higher priority.

Steps are already afoot to do so, he said, including the formation of a water institute at Stony Brook University to work on new technologies for dealing with nitrates and septic systems.

Audience members also asked about the elected officials’ efforts to intercede on behalf of East Hampton in its dispute with PSEG Long Island, which installed hundreds of 60-foot-tall poles from East Hampton Village to Amagansett earlier this year.

Mr. Thiele complained that the utility was as bad as the former Long Island Lighting Company in ignoring local concerns. “That’s because they have no oversight from the Public Service Commission,” he said. Mr. LaValle agreed that PSEG talked a good game when it took over the maintenance of the electricity from National Grid last year but soon showed another face.

Another audience member asked about Mr. Thiele’s long-term effort to eliminate zone pricing of petroleum products, which results in higher gas prices on the East End. Mr. Thiele said he hoped that with Mr. LaValle’s help, a measure that has passed in the Assembly outlawing the practice, could be passed in the Senate.

Both officials also said they were happy that the state is approaching the end of a long-needed Route 27 paving project, with Mr. Thiele adding that it now needs to turn its attention to Route 114, where there is a need for repaving in some places as well as an effort to address safety issues.

Jeremy Samuelson

Tags: , , ,


By Mara Certic

Jeremy Samuelson is the executive director of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk, a grassroots environmental organization. Here he discusses issues that will come up in an upcoming panel discussion CCOM is hosting on Saturday, September 20, about sustainable fisheries.

Why is CCOM concerned about sustainable fisheries?

For the last couple of years CCOM has been working on sustainable fisheries issues to try to find a way to move past some of the old conversations that don’t really seem to define where we need to go with striking a balance between fishing families making a living wage and a need to ensure the fisheries resource is sustainable. The old conversations didn’t serve the need going forward in identifying solutions. So we’ve partnered with Dock to Dish, members of the fishing community, fisheries scientists, the slow food movement, to try to find a way to have a new conversation that focuses on solutions.

As you said, CCOM has partnered with Dock to Dish. Do you think it’s better to get your fish from a CSF than from a local fishmonger?

The real change we are hoping to see is customers knowing where their fish is coming from, and getting it as directly as possible. That can be a model that is supported through any distribution network. You don’t have to be a member of a CSF to engage around sustainable fisheries issues. It’s just one model. So really what we’re hoping here is that no matter how somebody gets their seafood, whether that’s in a shop or a restaurant or from a wholesaler, we all are asking the same questions. What is my fish, where did it come from, was it caught sustainably, am I a part of the solution, or am I a part of the old business? If we are successful in our work, in a few years’ time, customers will always be asking themselves what is my fish, where did it come from, did the fishing family that landed this fish get paid a fair price? If people are asking those questions going forward then this movement will start to take hold, and we will see some changes in the industry that will benefit all of us.

There are many who say current landing regulations are outdated and must be revisited, where do you stand on that?

It’s true that the United States has the most regulated fishery in the world, but regulation is not the same thing as effective management. We need to collectively determine what are the best management strategies that allow fishing families to stay in business while we make sure we have robust fish stocks. There’s a balance that’s needed here and until we strike that balance it won’t be possible for us to have fish in the sea and for fishing families to make money. And if either one of those things fail, we’ve all failed.

What are some of the things you are looking forward to about Saturday’s panel discussion?

I think it’s going to be very interesting to see if we can all focus on the road ahead. The assumption for the last couple of decades has been that conservationists, scientists, fisheries, producers, regulators can’t have a unified approach to managing fisheries. I believe firmly that if we’re going to have honest science-based conversations that account for human need and strike that balance we’re seeing, there’s a way forward. And I’m really hoping that Saturday focuses on identifying and fleshing out what that way forward looks like.

“American Catch: Sustainable Fisheries, Getting it Right” is a series of panel discussions moderated by bestselling author Paul Greenberg. The free event will feature conversations on sustainable shellfish, sustainable seafood in the restaurant industry and creating sustainable fisheries. The event, which will be held at the Coast Restaurant, 41 South Euclid Street in Montauk, will also feature sustainably caught seafood prepared by the restaurant and a cash bar. Reservations are required. To make a reservation e-mail Deborah Klughers at dklughers@preservemontauk.org.

CCOM Reports Water Tests

Tags: , ,

Now in its second year, the Concerned Citizens of Montauk in partnership with the Surfrider Foundation’s nationwide Blue Water Task Force water quality testing program has been sampling Montauk and Amagansett water bodies for the bacteria enterococcus.

Each week trained volunteers collect and test samples from Ditch Plain, Lake Montauk and Fort Pond in Montauk and Fresh Pond in Amagansett and post the results on Surfrider’s Blue Water Task Force portal.

In the most recent test results, collected during the week ending August 22, bacteria levels ranged from low to high at the 15 sites tested, with the highest levels reported at the Fort Pond launching ramp and East Creek in Lake Montauk. Medium levels of the bacteria were found on the Industrial Road side of Fort Pond and Little Reed Pond Creek near Lake Montauk, with all other tested sites showing little or no bacteria.

Fish Eye View Highlights Long Island’s Life Underwater

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

A photo of a seahorse by Chris Paparo.

A photo of a seahorse by Chris Paparo.

By Stephen J. Kotz

From the surface, the teeming ecosystem of an East End bay reveals itself in glimpses: a bluefish breaking the surface; a school of silversides darting through the shallows; or a spider crab moving slowly along the edge of the eelgrass.

But for Chris Paparo, who has been taking underwater photographs for more than 25 years and is better known as the Fish Guy, the view is decidedly more detailed.

This Saturday, Mr. Paparo will present a free slide show and lecture, featuring his underwater photography, “An Underwater Journey of Long Island Through the Eyes of a Fishing Biologist,” at the office of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

CCOM executive director Jeremy Samuelson said he first learned about Mr. Paparo from his Facebook page, Fish Guy Photos, and was eventually intrigued enough to invite him to speak as part of CCOM’s environmental education outreach efforts.

“We all suffer a bit from this National Geographic thing in that we think the only beautiful things worth saving are halfway round the world,” said Mr. Samuelson, “but his photographs show you find them right here in our backyard.”

By day, Mr. Paparo, who received a degree in marine biology from Southampton College, manages the marine sciences center at the Stony Brook Southampton campus. “It’s exciting to have gone to school here as an undergrad and be back here for the next phase of the college’s life,” he said. Besides overseeing the facility’s operations, Mr. Paparo leads tours and field trips for visitors to the marine science center from local schools, museums and other community groups.

Before joining the university’s staff, he worked for four years at the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation and another 13 years at the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead as its educational coordinator and one of its rescue techs.

“The reason I went into marine science is my dad took me fishing when I was six, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” he said.

Besides giving lectures on his underwater photography, Mr. Paparo finds time to write a naturalist column for On the Water magazine and contribute to Fisherman magazine.

Mr. Paparo, who said he was certified as a scuba diver in 1993, first took up underwater photography as hobby. In recent years, “it’s snowballed a bit” with the advent of first the internet and later Facebook. Today, he said, every chance he gets he grabs his scuba gear and his Canon underwater camera rig, to explore beneath the surface of local bays.

Those who attend his lecture will see photographs of fluke, striped bass, porgies, puffers, winter flounder, sea bass and many other fish species. “Now you are going to see it from their point of view,” he said.

“I start with all the important game catch and then show the by catch, the crabs, snails, clams and end with the exotics, the tropical fish that come up in the summer time,” he continued.

Over the years, Mr. Paparo has photographed everything from tiny seahorses, which frequent the bays—“you have to know where to look for them,” he said—to sharks out in the ocean, although the latter he photographs from the safety of a boat.

“I haven’t seen any sharks diving, but I haven’t ventured out in the ocean to do any ocean diving,” he said. But he goes out with a friend and they tag and release sharks. “One of the makos we tagged off Shinnecock in 2012 was found 2,200 miles across the Atlantic,” he said. “It’s neat when you get a recapture like that.”

But Mr. Paparo said he has seen his share of sharks close to shore. “They are very abundant around here,” he said. “I’ve seen makos in the inlet. It’s just a matter of being out there and if you are out there the amount of time I am your chances of seeing them go up.”

Last year, Mr. Paparo said he was thrilled to see a string ray he estimated at 3-feet in diameter swimming around Ponquogue Bridge in Hamptons Bays. Although he was unable to photograph the fish, he caught it on video.

“I still get excited when I find an octopus,” said Mr. Paparo, who added that he has never seen one while diving, because they are very elusive creatures. “We collected two last fall, little guys,” he said. One was in a net, another came up with the anchor. “The first one was about the size of a gum ball, and the other one was even smaller, about the size of my pinky nail. If you didn’t know what you were looking for you would have missed them.”

Mr. Paparo said many amateur photographers fail to recognize how much work goes into capturing images of wildlife. “If you only go once, you won’t necessarily get the chance,” he said. “You never know what you are going to come across. And just because you saw it doesn’t mean you are going to get the picture.”

Mr. Paparo’s talk takes place at CCOM’s office at 6 S. Elmwood Avenue in Montauk. Admission is free and reservations are not required. For more information, call CCOM at (631) 238-5720.


Earthly Love

Tags: , , ,

On April 22, 1970, the world experienced its first Earth Day. Initially an event with nearly 20 million participants in the U.S., Earth Day has grown to include an estimated 1 billion participants from countries all around the world.

“People of all nationalities and backgrounds will voice their appreciation for the planet and demand its protection,” a message on the official Earth Day website proclaims. “Together we will stand united for a sustainable future and call upon individuals, organizations and governments to do their part.”

When you think about it, a lot has changed since the 1970s — and for the better. Cars and appliances run far more efficiently than they did a few decades ago, using far less fossil fuel and electricity. Meanwhile, the notoriously polluted byways and waterways of the New York metro area (who among us from that unenlightened era can soon forget the stench of the Meadowlands from the New Jersey Turnpike on a hot summer’s day?) have been largely reclaimed, cleaned up and are once again full of wildlife that can thrive there without fear of death and disease from toxic waste.

Beyond the urban landscape, there’s much to celebrate on the East End on this Earth Day as well. For one, let’s be thankful for the preservation efforts that, since the 1970s, have maintained the rural areas we still have in the face of rampant development pressures (anyone remember the proposed Montauk Highway bypass that would have cut through Sag Harbor’s southern reaches?)

But alas, there’s always garbage to be found on the streets and beaches of our fair towns and villages. So here on the East End, there are Earth Day celebrations aplenty and many of them come with an opportunity to do a little community service along the way. From the Great East End Clean-Up — for which Southampton Town residents will comb through over 70 locations with pokers and trash bags in hand — to local beach cleanups and environmentally friendly activities put on by organizations like the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center (SoFo) and Concerned Citizens of Montauk (CCOM), there is plenty to choose from.

Earth Day has long been popular and we expect a good number of people on the East End to show up this weekend and do their part for the environment — even if it’s simply taking that extra few moments to bend down and pick up a piece of litter on our morning walks. Every little bit helps.

The public’s awareness of environmental issues on April 22 is admirable and important. However, there are 364 other days in the year that are not given Earth Day distinction. What happens then?

This Earth Day weekend, take a mental snapshot of the efforts you see around you to protect the environment, and work to make those practices a more regular part of your daily routine. We’re not saying you have to drive to Sagg Main every morning with a poker and a trash bag and comb the beach looking for scattered debris. (We know, we have day jobs, too.)

Rather, take time during the rest of the year to pick up trash when you encounter it, for example. Do your part to eliminate plastic from the waste stream and buy reusable cloth shopping bags to keep in the trunk for when you’re out and about. And don’t leave your car idling when you “just run in to grab something.” Yes, we know it’ll only take a second, but those brief moments still create unwanted emissions.

The point is, Earth Day will inevitably end; but the need to keep our environment clean and healthy will not.

This weekend, don’t pick up trash and debris just because it’s Earth Day; clean up the environment around you because it’s the right thing to do. Because this is where we all live and we don’t want to see it ruined.