Tag Archive | "NYSDEC"

DEC Will Revise Mute Swan Proposal

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Mute Swans at the East Hampton Nature Trail on Monday, 2/17/14

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced it is considering changes to a draft mute swan management plan following public outcry over plans to kill or capture all mute swans in the state by 2025.

According to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, over the past five weeks, the DEC has received more than 1,500 comments on the plan from individuals and organizations, as well as more than 16,000 form letters and 30,000 signatures on various petitions.

“The draft plan for management for mute swans received significant public interest and DEC received many thoughtful and substantive comments,” Commissioner Martens said. “DEC is listening to these comments and concerns and will revise the draft plan and provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the revised plan this spring.”

In revising the plan, the DEC likely will acknowledge regional differences in status, potential impacts and desired population goals by setting varying goals for different regions of the state. In addition, the DEC will consider non-lethal means to achieve the management plan’s intended goals.

New recommendations are expected to be released this spring, and according to the DEC prior to finalizing the next draft, the DEC will meet with key stakeholder groups to ensure all potential management options are identified and considered.

Suit Filed Over Deer Cull in East Hampton

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By Kathryn G. Menu

Two not-for-profit wildlife organizations and a group of individuals have banded together and filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent a regional plan to cull deer with federal sharpshooters beginning this winter.

The Montauk-based East Hampton Group for the Wildlife and the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons in Hampton Bays, along with 15 residents, filed suit in Supreme Court Thursday against East Hampton Town, East Hampton Village and the East Hampton Town Trustees. In the suit, they ask for a temporary restraining order against the town’s comprehensive deer management plan, and specifically any proposal within that plan that calls for the organized culling of the whitetail deer.

While the lawsuit was served on the town last Thursday and the village on Friday, that same day, the East Hampton Village Board moved forward by passing a resolution to join the Long Island Farm Bureau’s (LIFB) proposal to bring in federal sharpshooters to cull deer herds in municipalities across the East End.

The LIFB’s plan, which it is coordinating with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), entails bringing United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sharpshooters to the East End to cull the herd. The program will be funded by the LIFB through $200,000 in funding through the 2013 state budget.

The Farm Bureau has asked East End villages and towns to sign onto the program by committing $15,000 to $25,000, respectively, to have federal riflemen come to their municipalities. The cull will take place in a four or five week window beginning in February, timing Farm Bureau Executive Director Joe Gergela noted was designed to give local hunters a chance to cull the herd themselves during deer season, which runs through late January.

The goal, said Gergela in an interview earlier this month, is to cull 1,000 to 2,000 deer from across the East End. The meat from the culled deer will go to Island Harvest to feed the hungry on Long Island.

The USDA sharpshooters use suppressed rifles and depending on terrain, either trap deer with a drop net, work as a mobile team with a driver, spotter and shooter, or shoot from tree stands. The Farm Bureau will coordinate efforts with municipalities that sign onto the program to identify areas deer herds tend to populate the most.

East Hampton Village has agreed to pay $15,000 into the program and joins East Hampton and Southold town, who have both agreed to provide $25,000 in funding.  Southampton Town has yet to decide on whether or not it will join the regional cull, and Sagaponack officials have said that village would wait until both towns sign on before making its own commitment. The Village of North Haven is pursuing its own organized cull.

While supporters of the plan point to the incidences of tick borne illnesses on the East End, public safety concerns connected to deer and motor vehicle accidents, as well as the financial impact on farms and on private landscaping, critics contend there has been little information provided to show the cull is truly necessary. Local hunters have also opposed the cull, arguing if New York State, and the towns and villages, opened up hunting restrictions, they could thin the deer population themselves.

“There is not enough proof that there is the kind of population that would warrant this,” said Virginia Frati, the Executive Director and Founder of the Evelyn Alexander Wildlife Rescue Center. “How can we do this without proof of that?”

“We are not convinced there is an overpopulation of deer,” she continued. “Where is the proof that an overwhelming majority of residents are even for this? Even the hunters are not in favor of this.”

Sag Harbor Resident Faces Possible DEC Fines for Alleged Clear Cutting of Phragmites

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A Sag Harbor resident is potentially facing thousands of dollars in fines from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). This comes after she allegedly cleared a swath of phragmites and marsh shrubs on the edge of her Oakland Avenue property that faces Otter Pong in Sag Harbor.

According to NYSDEC spokesman Bill Fonda, in early August his department received a complaint through New York Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.’s office about a resident who cleared vegetation to the border of Otter Pond.

The agency investigated the site on August 10, according to Fonda, and observed that a 50-foot-by-90-foot section of the property, containing primarily phragmites and some high marsh shrubs had been cut to grade.

As of last week, a notice of violation was being drafted to the owner of the property, Claudette Romano. The violation carries the potential of a $10,000 a day fine plus the cost of tidal marsh restoration said Fonda.

He added that the homeowner has 30 days to respond to the NYSDEC, which will ask that she come in for a conference to discuss the situation.

Attempts to reach Romano were unsuccessful.

According to Fonda, the potential fine is not uncommon. He said the tidal wetlands unit of the NYSDEC “probably issues the most permits of any DEC unit.”

“There are certainly over a thousand permits issued a year,” added Fonda, noting the unit also leads the agency “in the amount of violations issued.”

“It comes as a consequence of being on an island surrounded by wetlands,” said Fonda. “From our viewpoint, this is an ongoing investigation.”

The Mashashimuet Park Board, which owns the property directly surrounding Otter Pond, has worked for the better part of a decade to obtain a NYSDEC permit to prune phragmites around Otter Pond.

Last week, park board president Jean Irvine said the park board has abided by its permit and in no way had anything to do with the cutting at the 36 Oakland Avenue parcel.

“We are investigating the situation,” said Irvine, affirming it appears that some of the cutting occurred on park property.

“The park didn’t cut it and we are taking every step possible to ensure things are corrected,” she said.

According to the Sag Harbor Village code, approval would not just be required from the NYSDEC, but also from the village, for any cutting of this nature. It states that no clearing, digging or dredging can occur within 150-feet of wetlands without a permit, and any clearing, or use of herbicides requires a setback requirement to the wetlands of 50-feet.

According to Sag Harbor Village environmental planning consultant Rich Warren, that 50-foot setback requirement is actually less than what you see required in most communities, including Southampton Town. East Hampton Town, like Sag Harbor, only requires the 50-foot setback.

A violation of this village code carries a fine of no more than $1,000, although once cited by the village a homeowner can be charged for each consecutive day the clearing stands without re-vegetation.

Sag Harbor Village Building Inspector Tim Platt did not return calls for comment.