Tag Archive | "Cornell Cooperative Extension"

Tick Abatement Debate Wages On in North Haven Village

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Though ticks weren’t on the agenda at last Thursday’s North Haven Village Board meeting, several residents took to the podium to air grievances and share their feelings of being plagued by tick populations in the tiny village. They also demanded swift action from the board in combating ticks.

While Mayor Laura Nolan said the board has not “set any time frame” for taking action, she confirmed she and her fellow trustees were in the process of investigating the best ways to handle the tick problem.

In order to come to a decision, she explained, the board is “moving in a very measured way.”

Whether or not tick abatement will be specifically on the agenda at the next meeting has yet to be decided. However, Nolan confirmed that the board will update the public on its progress.

Meanwhile, the village board is “reading all the literature. We’re discussing finances [and] we’re discussing the science of it,” she explained.

“We are speaking to superiors, government officials in higher up positions. We are also taking this to a regional level… because North Haven is not alone in this problem,” Nolan added. “It’s the entire East End. It’s all of Eastern Suffolk.”

She also noted that any decisions made by the board would be the topic of a public hearing and would be posted in The Sag Harbor Express.

For residents at Thursday’s meeting, dealing with the pervasiveness of ticks — as well as what many of them refer to as an “epidemic” of Lyme Disease and other tick borne illnesses — is of the utmost importance.

Jack Flanagan, who has had Lyme Disease twice, told the board, “I know people who are getting sicker and sicker. So this is a public health issue, and it seems to have a bit of urgency in our minds.”

Residents Josephine De Vincenzi and Richard Gambino also spoke at the meeting, both for and against the idea of implementing a 4-Poster tick management plan in North Haven. The plan relies on dual-action feeding stations which are stocked with feed for deer and designed so that a powerful insecticide is applied to the animals’ necks as they eat.

In 2011, the Cornell Cooperative Extension finished a three-year study of the use of 4-Poster devices on Shelter Island, using North Haven Village as the control to assess tick populations. Researchers concluded there was a significant decline in tick populations in the testing areas when compared to the control samples in North Haven.

De Vincenzi has been in contact with Vincent Palmer, special assistant to the commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Palmer attended last month’s village board meeting and said the DEC was in favor of giving North Haven Village a license to use a 4-Poster tick management plan in the village.

“Mr. Palmer continues to stand by his statement that the 4-Poster Device is an amazing tool that is highly effective and a safe method for dramatically reducing tick populations,” said De Vincenzi.

But according to Gambino, some individuals have been misquoting studies about the method and making claims that do not actually appear in reports.

“There is no evidence anywhere in the 4-Poster experiment that it reduces the incidence of any disease — Lyme disease or any other disease,” asserted Gambino. “The idea that you’re going to eliminate 95 percent of ticks anywhere — North Haven or [elsewhere] — is quixotic. If you know anything about ticks, they multiply like crazy.”

Gambino added, “According to the EPA, permethrin [the insecticide used in 4-Poster devices] is highly toxic to fish, cats, honeybees and other insects that are beneficial to us.”

As the merits of the 4-Poster system are being debated, another alternative brought up at the meeting was the culling of the deer herd, which is already a method practiced by the Village of North Haven.

While De Vincenzi likened hunting deer to “killing your neighbor’s Golden Retriever,” she agreed the deer population in North Haven presents a threat.

“A multiple approach needs to be pursued that should include not only the culling of the deer, but also the use of products…to control the Lyme vector in the white-footed mouse population, and the proven technology of the 4-Poster Program,” she said.

The next North Haven Village board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 2 at 5 p.m.

Rebuilding Marine Meadows at Bay Burger This Weekend

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For the second year in a row, residents in the Sag Harbor area will have the opportunity to participate first-hand in helping to rebuild the eelgrass population throughout the East End bays and estuaries. Eelgrass is a critical component of the local ecosystem that allows marine life to thrive.

On Saturday, September 15 at 3 p.m. the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) will bring its Marine Meadows Program to Joe and Liza Tremblay’s Bay Burger restaurant on the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike.

The program is a community-based, collaborative component of CCE’s overall eelgrass restoration effort, which is funded in part by Suffolk County’s Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program. CCE offers these workshops throughout Long Island, giving residents an opportunity to learn about the importance of eelgrass to the marine ecosystem.

At this weekend’s workshop, participants will weave eelgrass shoots — harvested from healthy donor meadows in local waters — into burlap planting discs.  Once assembled, these discs will be planted by SCUBA certified CCE Marine Program staff in restoration sites in local estuaries.

These newly created “marine meadows” will serve as important marine habitat for many species of finfish and shellfish such as striped bass and bay scallops.

To date, CCE and various partners have facilitated 19 workshops in which nearly 500 volunteers have come together to assemble over 52,000 shoots of eelgrass into the planting discs.

“We are thrilled to be able to assist Cornell’s team in restoring our bay’s most critical and most threatened marine habitat,” said Joe Tremblay. “This is an issue that many of our friends and neighbors feel strongly about, and it’s wonderful that we can give them an opportunity to get their hands wet and participate in a restoration.”

CCE will also host a Save Our Seagrass (SOS) fundraising celebration at the South Fork Natural History Museum (SOFO) in Bridgehampton on November 10. That benefit will directly help fund the Marine Meadows Program.

For details call the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Habitat Restoration Outreach Specialist, Kimberly Barbour, at 852-8660, ext. 27 or email her at kp237@cornell.edu.

North Haven Residents Call for Tick Abatement

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Josephine DeVincenzi used to be an avid birder, but now she avoids the woods in North Haven, fearful of contracting Lyme Disease for the fourth time.

She is by no means alone.

Virtually all of DeVincenzi’s neighbors have contracted Lyme Disease or another tick borne illness at least once, if not multiple times. Even worse, her partner Jan Scanlon developed a life-threatening allergy to meat and dairy after being bitten by a Lone Star tick. In the last eight years, Scanlon has been rushed to the hospital almost a dozen times as a result of the affliction, twice in anaphylactic shock.

Calling the impact tick borne illnesses are having on residents in North Haven — a known hot spot for ticks — a “public health crisis,” on Monday night DeVincenzi urged the North Haven Village Board to explore implementing a “4-Poster” program in the village.

“As you know, North Haven Village served as the control for the 4-Poster Study on Shelter Island that studied tick infestation,” said DeVincenzi. “After three years of study, they found a significant decline in the tick population — a 95-percent decline.”

“While there is no perfect solution to the problem,” she added, “I am here on behalf of myself and the North Haven Manor’s Home Owners Association to demand the village find the means to implement the 4-Poster Program and abate our tick infestation.”

PA210031According to Dan Gilrein of Cornell Cooperative Extension, which completed the 4-Poster study in Shelter Island in 2011, DeVincenzi is correct. The study did show tick populations could be controlled over time and significantly reduced using 4-Poster devices. The duel feeding stations are designed to apply the insecticide permethrin to the necks, head, ears and shoulders of deer which are forced to rub up against applicator rollers as they feed at the stations. The permethrin is then transferred to other parts of the body as the deer grooms itself.

According to Gilrein, Cornell Cooperative Extension completed the study to help the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) make an informed decision on whether the state should allow communities to use 4-Poster devices for tick abatement and to what extent.

Gilrein said earlier this year, the DEC did decide to allow permits for 4-Poster devices, but only in Nassau and Suffolk counties and not in upstate New York. The DEC does require a four-year study of deer ecology as well as the tick population in order to gain a permit.

Gilrein added that while 4-Poster systems can be erected on private properties they must be monitored by someone with training.

“It’s a new technology that people have to learn how to use successfully,” he said.

“We know this helps to control ticks and perhaps it is also raising awareness about the role of the deer population in relation to tick borne illnesses,” added Gilrein. “It has also highlighted the need for more information and the importance of personal protection.”

On Monday night, DeVincenzi said she believes the time for study has passed and that because of Cornell’s work there is proof that the 4-Poster program could have a real impact on the lives of people in North Haven.

“How many more people need to be impacted,” she asked. “How many more health care dollars will be spent treating the illness instead of eradicating or reducing the major source of the problem?”

“You are the officials we elected to safeguard our community and the people living in it,” DeVincenzi later added. “Myself and others believe you have fallen short of the objective. We have a Lyme Disease epidemic here and we need action now.”

Nodding his head as DeVincenzi spoke, North Haven Village Board Member George Butts said he has had Lyme Disease about seven times and it is a widespread problem.

“My husband has had it, my daughter had it,” added board member Diane Skilbred.

However, Skilbred noted she had read implementing a 4-Poster program would cost about $1 million.

“How much is it costing us now,” asked DeVincenzi. “We are spending millions on tests, treatments, on trying to protect ourselves, but it is haphazard. We have to have a comprehensive plan.”

DeVincenzi added that she believed residents in North Haven Village would happily pay a little more each year in taxes in order to be protected.

“Tell me what you need, how many petitions you need to get signed and I will do it,” she said.

Board member Jeff Sander said he believed this was a valid concern and something the board should research, immediately, with DeVincenzi’s help.

“Let’s look at some data,” he said.

DeVincenzi said she would also seek to bring an expert on 4-Poster devices to the board’s August 7 meeting.

“I have given up going into the woods and enjoying nature,” she said. “I have just given it up.”

Photos courtesy of the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Bay Scallop Restoration Program to Expand

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Working with the State of New York through funding provided by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) announced last week it will expand the Peconic Bay Scallop Restoration Project in Suffolk County.

CCE has signed a contract with the state and will move forward with the first stages of the $182,900 award it received as a part of the Governor’s Regional Council initiative — a challenge issued to regions throughout the state to pitch economic development concepts with the potential to earn funding based on merit.

The Peconic Bay Scallop Restoration Project focuses on restoring the bay scallop population on Long Island in an effort to protect the eco-system and generate marine-related economic activity.

“Suffolk County’s marine-based businesses are vital to the overall health of our regional economy,” said Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association and Regional Council co-chair. “I applaud the efforts of the CCE and its partners to revive the bay scallop population as it will help both the environment and Long Islanders wallets. The partnership between the Council and CCE will allow us to grow our economy now while ensuring one of the area’s traditional industries not only survives, but flourishes once again.”

In 2005 Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Marine Program and Long Island University partnered with Suffolk County to create the largest scallop spawner sanctuary to restore the famous Peconic Bay Scallop. According to a press release issued last week, CCE will use the regional council funding to increase seed production, collection and planting and educate shellfish companies with field demonstrations on how to successfully grow bay scallops. Working on developing a marketing event is also planned.

“Thanks to the support of the Long Island Regional Economic Council and the Empire State Development Corp, CCE of Suffolk can continue to play a vital role in sustaining this heritage industry,” said Vito Minei, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County.

Marine Meadows Workshop Brings Eelgrass Restoration to Sag Harbor

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This Thursday and Friday, trained experts from the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) will forage shoots of healthy eelgrass from marine meadows throughout the region. They will then bring them to Sag Harbor and enlist the help of dozens of volunteers to aid in the Cooperative’s 18-year-old Eelgrass Restoration Program.

On Saturday — National Estuaries Day — the Cornell Cooperative Extension along with The Peconic Land Trust and the Sag Harbor Oyster Club hope to give East End residents a hands-on experience and education in eelgrass restoration.

From 3 to 5 p.m., the organizations will gather under tents at Bay Burger just outside Sag Harbor Village for the Marine Meadows Workshop. Volunteers will be asked to weave eelgrass shoots into burlap disks that will be planted in the Peconic Estuary the next day, establishing a new, healthy eelgrass meadow which ideally will become habitat for finfish and shellfish, and enhance the overall health of the bays.

According to the CCE’s Habitat Restoration Outreach Specialist Kim Barbour, the Marine Meadows Program is a community-based, collaborative initiative developed by the Cooperative as an offshoot of its Eelgrass Restoration Program.

Eelgrass is a critical aspect of the coastal ecosystem, noted Barbour. The seagrass provides habitat for marine life, helps filter nitrogen — preventing harmful algae blooms — and even protects the shoreline from erosion.

For decades, eelgrass has been in decline — globally and locally — due to pollution, disease and disturbance. Preserving what remains of the eelgrass meadows locally, as well as restoring the eelgrass stock is at the heart of the Cooperative’s Marine Program.

“The loss of eelgrass is one of the most significant issues facing the Peconic Estuary,” said Bay Burger owner and Sag Harbor Oyster Club founder Joe Tremblay. “Eelgrass is a critical habitat for a number of threatened species, most notably bay scallops and winter flounder. Scallop populations may never be able to be rebuilt if its natural eelgrass habitat disappears. The bottom of Sag Harbor Cove was historically almost entirely covered with eelgrass, and now it is virtually non-existent there. The Peconic Estuary has lost over 90 percent of its historic eel grass meadows.”

The Marine Meadows Program was conceived last spring to involve coastal communities on Eastern Long Island and Connecticut in the CCE’s efforts, providing a method to teach residents about water quality and the necessity of eelgrass restoration. It also enables the CCE to tap into local civic groups and community organizations as a pool of volunteers willing to donate their time towards eelgrass restoration projects in the Peconic Estuary, the Shinnecock Bay and in the Long Island Sound.

According to Barbour, this will be the fifth Marine Meadows Workshop event, and the program is gaining in popularity, community groups eager to get their hands dirty in the spirit of improving water quality across the region.

The workshops would not be possible without the initiative of Cornell Cooperative Extension restoration ecologist Chris Pickerell, who created the new, more efficient method of planting eel grass beds on bay bottoms. After weaving the healthy shoots into the burlap disks above water, they are planted by scuba certified CCE Marine Program staff the next day.

“The more we can get assembled, the more restoration,” said Barbour.

The process, she added, “is elementary, but as we do this we provide an education about the species while volunteers handle the live plants. This tremendously increases the planting units we have to work with and hopefully people will walk away with a new found knowledge and enthusiasm for protecting our estuaries.”

Barbour said CCE is hoping to make the program an almost year-round aspect of their overall Eelgrass Restoration Program, and with the amount of community support the workshop has received so far, she is hopeful the organization will meet its goals.

The Marine Meadows Program, sponsored by the Cornell Cooperative Extension, The Peconic Land Trust and the Sag Harbor Oyster Club is free, and will be held Saturday from 3 to 5p.m. For more information contact Kim Barbour at 852-8660 or at kp237@cornell.edu.