Otsego County: Office to fight pests

Area organizations dealing with such issues as zebra mussels and water chestnuts will be getting some help, according to a media release from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The agency announced the formation of a new office to focus the effort to combat the problem.

The Office of Invasive Species will bring together foresters and biologists to work with universities, state agencies and nonprofit organizations to support research and raise awareness. Biologist Steve Sanford will lead the effort.

Otsego County Conservation Association Executive Director Erik Miller said that having a specific representative handling the issue will be a big help.

"More needs to be done," Miller said, but this move is an indication the problem is "getting the respect it deserves."

The greater Oneonta area has not been immune to invasive species. In August 2006, efforts were made to combat an infestation of water chestnuts on private wetlands behind Oneida Street in Oneonta. That Eurasian plant grows thick and has been known to clog pipes, canals and waterways, affecting navigation and power plant infrastructure, according to Matt Albright, assistant to the director at the State University College at Oneonta Biological Field Station, at the time.

Water chestnuts have also been spotted this year in Otsego Lake, where a cleanup day is held in August to target invasive species as well as debris. Zebra mussels have been found in Otsego Lake this year and were discovered in Canadarago Lake as early as 2002.

Even though many of the invasive species have been around for years, "we have never had a coordinated system in place to attack the problem," said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis in the release.

The office will provide a system that threads together the issues of public outreach, funding, legislation and research, which is what Miller, an incoming city alderman, said he hoped would happen.

His organization recently received a $15,600 grant from the DEC to organize and conduct a three-year program for the eradication of water chestnuts on Goodyear Lake. The program beginning in August will use manual means instead of herbicides. Also included in those DEC Aquatic Invasive Species Eradication grants was $28,139 for the SUNY Research Foundation to eradicate 40 acres of purple loosestrife and water chestnut from a wetland near Oneonta

There is a total of $5 million for invasive species programs in the 2007-08 state budget for such grants as well as public outreach through Cornell Cooperative Extension and a plan to develop virus-free planting stock for fruit growers at the state Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva. Plans call for creating an Institute of Invasive Species Research at Cornell University.

Humans are suspected of spreading the problem of invasive species through infested wood, boat ballast, bait fish and other means.

Beside prevention, fast identification and "rapid response" eradication are important, Sanford said.




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Watershed Corp. grants go to municipal projects; West Hurley firm gets $1M loan

Watershed Corp. grants go to municipal projects; West Hurley firm gets $1M loan


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MARGARETVILLE - The Catskill Watershed Corp. has approved $500,000 in grants for five municipal planning projects in the Schoharie Reservoir basin and a $1 million low-interest loan for a West Hurley company.

Funds will go to the town of Windham to compile a generic environmental impact statement to identify the impacts of and mitigation for reasonably foreseeable future development; the town of Roxbury to do a comprehensive plan addendum and an impact statement; the town of Conesville for an impact statement for the Manorkill area; and the town of Jewett for a stormwater analysis.

The town and village of Hunter and the village of Tannersville will team prepare a generic environmental impact statement for the state Route 23A corridor through the town.

The projects are intended to curb future stormwater problems and turbidity in the basin.

In other action, the corporation approved a $1 million low-interest loan to Numrich Arms Corp. of West Hurley. The funds will help pay for a new 26,000-square-foot warehouse on the company's Williams Lane property to lease to affiliate Numrich Gun Parts Corp., the largest supplier of gun replacement parts in the world which employs 75 people. The building will be used to store the company's 175,000-item inventory.

For more information, go to www.cwconline.org, or call (845) 586-1400.


Nestle Looking to Build Water Bottling Facilities in the Catskills

Nestle faces fight for aquifer for bottled water
Environmentalists fear plans for property in Orwell, Oswego County, could threaten Salmon River
By BRIAN NEARING, Staff writer
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Wednesday, September 5, 2007
ORWELL -- A water war may be brewing between a giant Swiss multinational corporation and environmentalists on the Tug Hill Plateau.

Nestle, the world's largest seller of bottled water with 72 brands in 37 countries, has set its sights on the region's deep springs under plans to extract water from the state to satisfy a growing consumer thirst.

Last month, the company's North American division announced plans to buy a 450-acre farm in Orwell, Oswego County, for a 1.5 million-gallons-a-day, $100 million bottling plant. The property is several miles north of the Salmon River, one of the state's premier fisheries, and in the heart of the state's lake-effect snow belt.

Nestle, which also is scouting for springs near the Catskills and in central New York, has drawn attention from Trout Unlimited and other environmental groups, which are concerned that pumping so much water could damage the Salmon River and cold-water fish like brook trout and salmon.

And that's in addition to mounting criticism that bottled water wastes fossil fuels and worsens global warming.

Nestle's foray into the Northeast stems from a desire to cut costs by producing closer to many of its customers, said Kirt Mayland, director of the Eastern Water Project for Trout Unlimited.

Mayland outlined the group's concerns Tuesday in a letter to Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Mayland said environmentalists want a detailed study on how Nestle's proposal could affect the aquifer. They also want the company to support efforts to extend the bottle recycling law to water and other noncarbonated beverages.

"We are tired of seeing Poland Spring (a Nestle brand) water bottles floating down our streams," he said. "This is a warning shot over their heads, that they should not expect to breeze through this," he said.

Kent Koptiuch, resource manager for Nestle's New York operations, said the company is dedicated to maintaining the environment "in as natural a condition as possible."

"If we find that any withdrawal by us would be detrimental to the watershed, we could walk away from the whole thing," he said.

Koptiuch said years of study lie ahead for the project, which also needs state and federal permits.

The dispute comes as the bottled water industry, which sold more than 8.25 billion gallons in this country last year, is under increasing pressure from critics who see it as a wasteful alternative to tap water while generating millions of extra plastic bottles.

In June, the U.S. Conference of Mayors called for a study of the environmental impact. In July, under pressure from environmental activists, Pepsico said it will add "source labels" to bottles of Aquafina, saying it is tap water subjected to extra purification.

Nearing can be reached at 454-5094 or by e-mail at [email protected].


Sullivan County, NY - Kiryas Joel Developer Proposes 2,000 Homes in 3 Towns

Sullivan County, NY - Kiryas Joel Developer Proposes 2,000 Homes in 3 Towns

Sullivan County, NY - A Kiryas Joel developer plans to build nearly 2,000 homes spread over three towns in Sullivan County.
Simon Gelb is floating the idea of building 1,400 units in Thompson, about 560 in Mamakating, and still more in the Town of Fallsburg, on contiguous land.

Gelb met with Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini, and submitted a master plan with the town on behalf of Brooklyn-and-Monroe-based Read Property Group.
That company has a stake in 11 shopping centers around the country, and several commercial and residential properties in New York and Chicago, including the Sears Tower in Chicago.

Gelb has since met with the town's engineer. In Thompson, he proposes building two units on 1-acre lots.
But he getting a frosty reception. "It's never going to happen in my town," Cellini said, that this project looks too big, he said. Cellini said he's concerned about quality and density of housing, and the stress on roads.
Cellini has already spoken against the project at a Town Board meeting. "I think we should save them a lot of time and money and say, no thank you," he said.
Gelb couldn't be reached for comment because of the Passover holiday.

Earlier this winter, Gelb submitted a preliminary plan to Mamakating Supervisor Charlie Penna.
In Mamakating, the plan calls for 560 homes on 893 acres, a commercial strip on 227 acres and some open space.
Fallsburg Supervisor Steve Levine said he hasn't met with Gelb and doesn't know his plans for Fallsburg.

Gelb is a known developer in Sullivan County.
In 2004, he brokered a deal to turn a 77-acre Recreation Farm resort near Fosterdale into a synagogue with a hotel and food, on behalf of the Satmar community of Hasidic Jews.
He has also played a role in developing seasonal homes in the Town of Bethel.
Penna said that he would be open to talking with Gelb.
But Penna doubts anything will come of the plans, saying developers come, unveil big plans and disappear. Penna said he hasn't heard from Gelb in four months. "There are five more (projects) just as big as this one," Penna said. [Record]



New York Post



October 7, 2007 -- AN INVASIVE algae is threatening some of New York's finest trout streams and, if left unchecked, could spread throughout the Catskills.

The presence of didymo has been found in the East Branch of the Delaware River and is suspected to be in the West Branch.

New York's Department of Environmental Conservation says these are just the latest incidents of this algae, also called rock snot because of its appearance. Early this summer, didymo also was discovered in a section of the Batten Kill in Washington County.

The DEC is particularly worried it will spread to nearby storied trout waters Beaver Kill and Willowemoc Creek.

Anglers can be the culprit in helping to spread this algae, which can attach itself to porous materials such as neoprene waders and felt soles. That poses a big problem because fly fishermen can fish a number of streams through the course of a day or a weekend.

Didymo cells can produce large amounts of stalk material that forms thick mats on stream bottoms. These mats alter stream conditions, choking out many of the organisms that live on the stream bottom, potentially causing a ripple effect up the food chain affecting trout and other fish.

Anglers, kayakers, canoeists, boaters and jet skiers can unknowingly spread didymo by transporting the cells on boats and other gear. There is no known method for killing this algae.

If you do suspect the presence of didymo in state waters, contact the local DEC office with the location so samples can be taken to document and monitor the algae's spread.

Anglers should check their waders for any clumps of algae and throw them in the trash.

Treatment varies depending on what needs to be cleaned. Be sure the solution completely penetrates thick, absorbent items such as felt-soled waders and wading boots. Go to www.dec.ny.gov for cleaning instructions.

If cleaning is not practical, the DEC says that after the item is completely dry to the touch, wait an additional 48 hours before contact or use in any other waterway.




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Washington can expect lawsuits challenging energy corridor policy

Washington can expect lawsuits challenging energy corridor policy

CHENANGO COUNTY – Energy officials in Washington can expect legal challenges to be brought against a recent federal policy that could breath life into the New York Regional Interconnect power line if the controversial bid dies at the state level, local power line opposition leaders say.

The anti-NYRI front wants Governor Eliot Spitzer and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to support the lawsuits.

“We call upon Governor Spitzer and Attorney General Cuomo to join with us in these legal battles to protect the rights of New Yorkers against the incursion of federally imposed projects and to protect the right of the state to determine its own energy policy,” said Hubbardsville resident Chris Rossi, a co-chair for the Chenango and Madison County group Stop NYRI.

Using unprecedented authority granted by the 2005 Energy Policy Act, Tuesday the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) completed a year and a half-long debate and finalized its two “National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor” designations. Inside the corridors – a “Mid-Atlantic” that stretches from Virginia to northern New York state, and a “Southwest” that covers parts of California and Arizona – the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will have the authority, under certain circumstances, to override a state’s power line permitting process and review a project like NYRI’s – even if it has already been denied.Several attempts by a group of New York’s congressional representatives in Washington to reverse the corridor policy by way of legislation have yet to succeed.

A bill that would drastically reduce FERC’s powers inside the corridor introduced by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton in August is still awaiting a vote. That legislation reportedly went to Senate committees last week for review, Schumer’s office said Friday.



Ulster’s Open Space Plan is ready for prime time

Ulster’s Open Space Plan is ready for prime time

Kingston – “Ensuring quality of life for future generations” is what it is all about, according to Ulster County Planning Board Director Dennis Doyle, after wrapping up a series of six information sessions on the county’s comprehensive “Open Space Plan”.  The sessions were held throughout the county over the past couple of weeks.  The final one was Wednesday night, primarily for county legislators.

There were many questions about the 90-page plan, which is a result of a long effort by key stakeholder groups in the county, including the Planning Board and Environmental Management Council.

The plan examines seven “Open Space Resources”

  • Protected open space
  • Water resources
  • Working landscapes
  • Landforms and natural features
  • Ecological communities
  • Cultural and historic resources
  • Recreation resources

Doyle: "Cut through
the noise"

"Rome is burning"

Doyle says ‘quality of life’ comes into play in one simple concept. “Directing growth where it needs to go and preserving places that need to be preserved.”

County Legislature Hector Rodriguez, who chairs the Economic Development, Housing, Planning and Transit Committee, says ‘now is the time’.

“When the resolution was passed back in 2004, it was a bit of ‘Rome is burning’.  That’s still the case.  I think that right now, we have a real opportunity to partner up with the towns.  We’ve already seen leadership at the local level, particularly in New Paltz, Marbletown and Gardiner, and I think it’s time that the Ulster County Legislature join in that effort.”

There were some concerns among a few legislators.  Republican Minority Leader Glenn Noonan worried about preempting the ability of municipalities to control their own destinies.

That won’t happen, said Doyle, adding the plan should act as a guide for what municipalities should do.

“Government officials and decision makers are being asked to deal with increasing amounts of information and to make decisions.  There is increasing, competing attention for their decisions.  I like to call it ‘noise’.  We need a way to cut through the noise.”

Doyle said during the info meeting tour, the response was “enormously positive”.  Among the suggestions to come during the process that could be included in the plan are to look at “small open spaces”, including highways, as green areas.

The legislature may vote next month.  A formal public hearing on the Open Space Plan is November 7.



DOE designates National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors

DOE designates National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors Local representatives are fuming over the federal Department of Energy’s designation Tuesday of two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors.

That is one step that New York Regional Interconnection needed to build its 200-mile high-voltage power line from Oneida County to Orange County.

The designations allow the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to permit private corporations to use federal eminent domain powers to seize private property from to develop power lines.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey said lawmakers will seek to amend the energy policy to remove the authority to establish those corridors.

The FERC should also be changed to prevent the agency from giving private companies to ability to seize private property through eminent domain, he said.

Hinchey said the DOE’s decision proves to him that a public comment period held earlier this year “was nothing more than a public relations stunt to give the perception that the public was included in the agency’s decision.”

Congressman John Hall, who also opposes the line, said it, “flies in the face of common sense and is a huge mistake.”

Lawmakers will apply for a re-hearing and seek to stop the designation in the courts, he said.

Hall said he is “shocked” that the federal government would move ahead with the plan to give eminent domain authority to a private company, “without acknowledging the serious objections from the communities that the New York Regional Interconnect would run through, the environmental impacts of the corridor, of the rights of local property owners.”

Both lawmakers said they are committed to keep up the fight to prevent construction of the NYRI line.

State Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt, meanwhile, said the approval will allow NYRI to construct high-voltage power lines “right through our quiet communities destroying both commercial and residential property.


Marbletown Natural Heritage Plan Airs

Natural Heritage Plan airs

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STONE RIDGE - A draft of the Marbletown Natural Heritage Plan, a comprehensive strategy aimed at protecting the town's natural resources and assets, will be released at a public forum this evening.

The meeting, at 7:15 p.m. in the Marbletown Community Center on U.S. Route 209, is intended to provide an opportunity for public input before the plan is finalized and considered for adoption by the Town Board.

"This plan will allow us to balance appropriate levels of growth and development while protecting our critical agricultural and historical resources," said town Supervisor Vin Martello. "This is important just to give us a better database or inventory of where important natural resources are, from farmland to wooded land to wildlife habitats. ... This will give residents an overview of the town's situation to inform their decision-making process."

The implementation of the Natural Heritage Plan, funded with grant money, was in the town's 2005 comprehensive plan. The plan is an addition to recent planning efforts, including the Marbletown Index of Natural, Historical and Cultural Resources, and the Aquifer Protection Study, both completed in 2005.

The draft plan, about 70 pages long, will be presented by Behan Planning Associates, the town's consultant on the project.

"This is not meant to be regulatory in nature," said Melissa Barry, an associate planner for Behan Planning Associates. "We see this as more of a proactive document; it's about trying to go out and seize these opportunities."

The plan will cover elements that make up the town's "natural heritage," such as forests, farms and water resources. It further identifies priority areas for conservation and recommends strategies for the town to advance its goal of balancing development and economic growth with the preservation of natural resources.

Included in the plan is the Marbletown Natural Heritage Vision Map, which summarizes the priority areas and resources. The plan also outlines immediate and long term benefits to residents. One of the immediate benefits was the range of opportunities for community participation.

"Unless we're proactive and make decisions that need to be made to provide the right type of environment for balancing appropriate growth and development, those decisions are going to be made for us," Martello said. "Change will happen with or without us."

"This plan kind of provides a natural background for fitting growth in," said John Behan, a principal with Behan Planning Associates. "It identifies places that can absorb development. Those places can become community decision points."

Martello indicated that Marbletown had some of the area's most advanced zoning laws. While this is not something new, Martello said that the Natural Heritage Plan is simply another step in staying "ahead of the curve." Martello said the town is looking to create an Internet database to help keep records of the town's infrastructure and scientific data.

"This can become a prototype for towns around the county," Martello said. "The challenges of new growth don't stop at municipal boundaries."



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