Press Releases

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Stop Sand Land Expansion – Media Advisory

Environmental groups, Civics, Elected Representatives, and local residents call on DEC to deny sand mine expansion

Bridgehampton, NY—Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), the Group for the East End, Noyac Civic Council, Sag Harbor CAC, and others, will hold a press conference to urge the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to deny a permit for the expansion of the already massive Sand Land mine in Bridgehampton, NY.

Daily operations at the mine have created numerous concerns over groundwater contamination, noise pollution, dust, odor and public safety among residents and environmental groups for many years. Now Sand Land is proposing to expand its mining operations for an additional 25 years. Sand Land’s permit does not address certification for solid waste management, topsoil, mulch, and compost production believed to be taking place on site.

After the event, members of the press will be invited to observe and photograph the mine in its current state.

WHAT: Press conference calling on DEC to deny Sand Land’s mine expansion

WHO: Adrienne Esposito, CCE Executive Director; Bob Deluca, GFEE President

WHEN: Monday, August 18, 2014 at 11:00AM

WHERE: Old Noyac School House

3010 Noyac Rd.

Sag Harbor, NY 11963

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Group for the East End Announces Summer Schedule of Family-Oriented Educational Programs at Downs Farm

Tuesday July 8, 2014 (Cutchogue, NY) A little over a year ago, Group for the East End partnered with the Town of Southold to provide environmental education programs at the town-owned Downs Farm Preserve. This beautiful 51-acre parcel on Downs Creek in Cutchogue is a significant natural and historical resource. The property boasts a Native American fort site, scenic woodlands, and tidal wetlands. In fact it has been designated a “National Historic Landmark,” this is the same designation held by the Washington Monument, Statue of Liberty, and many other well-known places.

 

The Town reached out to Group for the East End (with our over 25 years of experience teaching local environmental education) to help make Downs Farm Preserve a place for the community to gather and learn about our local environment. So far, we have held over 50 popular programs for individuals and families, many making use of the two meandering nature trails on the Preserve. There is also a Visitor and Nature Center on the grounds, which is the perfect place for programs during rainy days.

 

In the first year, this unique partnership brought over 800 people to Downs Farm Preserve to learn about and enjoy our local environment. “Some of the most popular events included a Family Scavenger Hunt through the trails, a hands-on science program for children called “Kitchen Chemistry”, and a workshop in which participants built their own birdhouses,” said program coordinator and GFEE Educator Missy Weiss. Group for the East End has received lots of positive feedback from participants, including Karen Murray who told us “The programs are terrific… You’re making a huge impact on the kids you teach.”

 

This summer’s programming promises to be popular, interesting, and fun as well! We already have many events scheduled and more are being added all the time. Saturday July 12th is Family Nature Bingo night, a fun way to learn about our local environment and maybe pick up some prizes! On July 23rd we will be hosting a marine animal exploration, in which participants will learn about a variety of local marine life focusing on sea turtles. For the younger children (and their families) we regularly offer a nature-themed story-time and craft hour, which is always a big hit or come by anytime and visit the Peconic Estuary Program rain garden and rain barrel installation to learn about bay-friendly projects for your yard. There really is something for everyone!

 

Visit our calendar for the current list of upcoming events at Downs Farm Preserve and elsewhere across the East End: http://www.groupfortheeastend.org/events/calendar/. We are also looking for volunteers, community groups, or student groups to help with various projects around the preserve.

 

Contact: Jen Skilbred

631-899-3651 – Ÿjskilbred@eastendenvironment.org

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Town of Southold Provides Innovative Maintenance to WATERWASH Mattituck Project

Monday July 7, 2014 (Southold, NY) Five years after its installation, WATERWASH Mattituck received its first thorough cleaning this week. Located just north of Sound Ave (Route 48) and Love Lane, this innovative stormwater remediation project was greeted Tuesday morning by three members of the highway crew and a retrofitted lawnmower with a hose attached to one of the Town’s high-powered storm-drain vacuum trucks. The result after nearly an hour of “vacuuming” and another 20 minutes of an intense power wash was an improved permeability at the site that will filter out pollutant particles before entering Mattituck Creek.

 

“Glad to help and glad my invention worked,” said Town Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando, who is already eager to get next year’s cleaning date on the books. The invention was a retrofitted lawnmower deck found on the side of the road and affixed to the truck’s vacuum hose. The result was a machine that could remove fine sands that accumulate in this recycled glass permeable pavement to allow stormwater to infiltrate. All varieties of pervious pavement require yearly maintenance.

 

“Now, with the Highway Department’s yearly help, we can ensure the parking area percolation remains effective,” stated Lillian Ball, ecological artist and conservationist, who conceived this first project of the WATERWASH series.

 

But what is WATERWASH? Located at the head of Mattituck Creek, the WATERWASH Project is an educational model for non-point source storm-water that was created to improve water quality and provide wildlife habitat. A bio-swale of native plants is a second defense beyond the permeable pavement. The project further meets Southold Town’s Federally mandated stormwater mitigation obligations. Uncontrolled rainfall or stormwater can be detrimental to water quality and shellfish species due to high amounts of fecal coliform bacteria (e.g. pet waste) excessive amounts of nitrates (e.g. fertilizer) and other pollutants.

 

Group for the East End supported the WATERWASH Mattituck project from the beginning and continues to help with maintenance of this important project. “The WATERWASH Project is a leading example of how communities can mitigate stormwater flowing directly into our creeks and bays, “added Aaron Virgin, Vice President of Group for the East End. In East Marion, the Group has been working with the Gardiner’s Bay Estates on a similar project that will be completed later this year, and Ms. Ball recently completed WATERWASH ABC along the Bronx River in NYC. Join us Thursday evening for a paddle through Mattituck Inlet. (http://www.groupfortheeastend.org/event-list/paddle-mattituck-inlet-mattituck/)

 

Contact: Jen Skilbred

631-899-3651 – Ÿjskilbred@eastendenvironment.org

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Suffolk Will Restore “Raided” Money

County Will Re-direct $30 Million to Land & Water Protection

Environmentalists Win Three-year Legal & Legislative Battle

June 4,2014 – Suffolk County has agreed to restore $30 million dollars taken from the county’s Drinking Water Protection Program after environmentalists waged a three-year battle to reclaim money intended to preserve open space and protect the underlying water. The funds were taken from the voter-approved program by former County Executive Steve Levy, in 2011 and current County Executive Steve Bellone, in 2013.

The Long Island Pine Barrens Society challenged the “raids” in two lawsuits and in February, with support from Group for the East End a petition campaign was launched, aimed at placing a Proposition on the ballot that would require the county to return the money and not use it for other purposes in the future without a new referendum. They argued that the funding, which authorized the collection of ¼ cent in sales tax could not be altered except by another referendum.

But weeks after Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced that his administration would make water protection its top priority, he reached out to environmentalists with an offer to restore the funding and advance a Charter Amendment referendum, this November, to assure that the Drinking Water Protection Program would not be altered in the future, without voter approval by subsequent mandatory referendum.

“This is a good faith effort on the part of the County Executive and County Legislature to right a wrong and begin the process of restoring drinking and surface water quality,” said Pine Barrens Society Executive Director, Richard Amper. He praised the pro bono legal team and the “legions” of Suffolk residents who collected signatures on a petition to put a Proposition on the November ballot which would require Suffolk to return the money taken and prohibit any recurrence

All of Long Island’s water comes from underground, and contaminants such as nitrogen from sewage and fertilizers, pesticides and toxic chemicals have been polluting groundwater for many years.

Funds taken from the Drinking Water Protection Program will come from $29.4 million in bonding. The settlement would permit limited county borrowing from the Assessment Stabilization Reserve Fund which helps control sewer rates but can’t be used for land preservation or other water quality programs.

Robert DeLuca, President of the Group for the East End, which joined the Pine Barrens Society in the petition campaign and who helped hammer out the fund restoration deal said, “Every resident of Suffolk County should feel good about this settlement and not just for its environmental benefits. What this agreement demonstrates is that no matter how difficult the challenge, government can and does rise above the status quo, when it is moved by an organized, mobilized citizenry that acts with purpose, passion and persistence”

The agreement will be accomplished through a Stipulation of Settlement agreed to by the county and environmentalists which requires return of the funds and enactment of a new Charter Law to prevent future unauthorized use of Drinking Water Protection Program funds. “We want to thank all of our supporters and petition carriers for participating in this exercise in democracy,” Amper said, “We could not have succeeded without them.”

News Conference, Agreement Signing & Rally. Blydenburgh County Park 102 New Mill Road, Smithtown, Wednesday, June 4 at 1 p.m.. Enter park from the north side.

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PEP Rewards Program Money Available for Flanders Residents; Demonstration Project Being Developed at Big Duck Spring Fair

 Peconic Estuary Rewards Program Money Available for Flanders Residents; Demonstration Project Being Developed at Big Duck Spring Fair

The Peconic Estuary Program (PEP), one of 28 National Estuary Programs, has been working to protect and restore the Peconic Estuary for over 20 years. One of the factors negatively impacting water quality in the estuary, along with nitrogen from sewage, is stormwater runoff.  This is water that picks up pollution and travels toward the bay bringing contaminants with it. Two good ways to deal with stormwater runoff include: eliminating/reducing the use of potential contaminants (i.e. pesticides and fertilizers) and giving stormwater a chance to be used by plants or be absorbed into the ground.

In order to address this stormwater runoff issue, PEP with the support of Group for the East End (GFEE) and New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) is offering a unique rewards opportunity for residents in the Reeves Bay watershed in Flanders, Southampton (as well as residents in the Hashamomuck Pond watershed in Southold). This educational project will help homeowners reduce runoff from their property, which will improve local water quality. Rebates are being provided to eligible homeowners who use native plants by installing rain gardens or conservation landscaping on their properties.

This Saturday, May 17, 2014, PEP and GFEE will be working with local volunteers, to develop a demonstration native plant garden at the Big Duck site in Flanders. We will begin at 10am, just as the Big Duck Spring Fair gets underway, so stop by to help us plant and learn about this great rebate program, while enjoying the Annual Spring Fair setup by Friends of the Big Duck.

Conservation landscaping projects reduce runoff by reducing the amount of water leaving your property after a storm, and reduce fertilizer use often associated with large lawns. This demonstration garden as well as the rebate program will be available for viewing and will provide an opportunity for residents to learn more about the Peconic Estuary and ways they can help protect and restore this local treasure. Also eligible for a financial reward (and available for viewing along the outside of the Big Duck bathrooms) is the installation of a rain barrel. Rain barrels catch water that would otherwise run off your property and put it to good use, like watering your flowers or vegetable gardens. This program was launched last fall and there has been quite a bit of community interest. However, there is some funding remaining, and more applications are being accepted. Spring gardening season is upon us, so send in your application today! http://www.groupfortheeastend.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Guidelines-Hashamomuck-Rewards.pdf

For more information please visit www.PeconicEstuary.org or contact Jennifer Hartnagel at Group for the East End (jhartnagel@eastendenvironment.org).

 

Contact: Jennifer Skilbred, Communications Specialist

631-899-3651 Ÿ  jskilbred@eastendenvironment.org

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Southampton Dark Sky Week

Southampton Adopts April 20-26 2014 As International Dark Sky Week

April 21, 2014 - The Southampton Town Board adopted a resolution on April 10, 2014 that designated April 20-26 as “International Dark Sky Week” to celebrate and spread awareness of this international event.  During this time period, town residents, businesses and visitors are encouraged to learn more about reducing light pollution and to enjoy stargazing on clear nights.  In observance of International Dark Sky Week, the Town will continue the practice of turning off most outdoor lighting at Town Hall early from April 20 through April 26, 2014 and throughout the year.

The Town of Southampton adopted an Outdoor Lighting Code in 2009 to reduce light pollution and help to preserve the view of the nighttime sky.  Eastern Long Island is one of the few places on Long Island with a clearly visible Milky Way.

Jenn Hartnagel, Senior Environmental Advocate at Group for the East End and member of the Southampton Town Dark Sky Advisory Committee noted that “The Town Board recognized the environmental importance of reducing light pollution, which can have a damaging effect on local plant and animal species that rely on a night cycle.”  Reducing light pollution also generally helps to conserve energy, increase safety on roadways and walkways by reducing glare, and improves the general quality of neighborhood life by preventing light trespass on neighboring properties.

Gail Clyma, Chairperson of the Town’s Dark Skies Committee, said, “Everything that is done to preserve our view of the starry night sky also helps to reduce the many ecological impacts of light pollution.”

Town residents and business owners are also encouraged to visit the Town of Southampton’s Dark Skies webpage at www.southamptontownny.gov/darkskies to learn more about light pollution, help with understanding the Town’s regulations, and discover ways in which community members can make a difference to protect the night sky.

Contact:
Jennifer Skilbred
631-899-3651 • jskilbred@eastendenvironment.org
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North Fork Clean Water Action Group Takes Protection of Drinking and Surface Waters to the Local Level

North Fork Clean Water Action Group Takes Protection of Drinking and Surface Waters to the Local Level

April 18, 2014 — The North Fork Clean Water Action Group (NFCWA), formed in 2012 to incorporate local North Fork needs in addressing Long Island’s larger water crisis, will present a set of prudent and practical steps for the Town of Southold to prioritize as it continues work on its 2020 Comprehensive Plan and other community planning and water quality projects. These suggested plans of action, outlined in a letter from the group’s founding members with the support of others, will be presented at the Southold Town Board in a work session on April 22 at Town Hall.

According to Bill Toedter, president of the North Fork Environmental Council, “NFCWA is presenting these action steps to Southold today, but the broader goal is to have all five East End towns consider similar clean water action efforts and create a comprehensive East End water quality initiative for the region.”  “East Hampton is already moving in this direction with the development of a town-wide wastewater management plan and it’s important that all the pieces fit together,” he said.

NFCWA’s primary goals for Southold include:

  • Establishing an overarching Water Quality Advisory Committee
  • Establishing a Town-wide and/or Watershed Protection Improvement District, and
  • Adopting a Town-wide wastewater management plan

NFCWA is bringing these recommendations forward as many local, county and state leaders have begun to focus attention on the need for water quality improvement across the region. Locally, the North Fork’s groundwater has some of the highest recorded levels of nitrogen compounds in the county, compounds which can significantly impact human and environmental health. On the county level, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services has concluded that many of the North Fork’s wastewater disposal systems will become compromised by the effects of sea level rise and the related impacts of rising groundwater elevations, thus the need for planning and action in the near future. And on the state level, in August 2012, Governor Cuomo signed into law the Watershed Protection Improvement District bill which, when certain actions are undertaken on the local level, permits a town board to take certain actions for the protection and restoration of groundwater, surface waters and drinking water quality, as well as allow the town to create or tap into funding vehicles.

Bob DeLuca, Group for the East End president, said, “As a member of the Long Island Clean Water Partnership (a regional coalition of organizations working for clean water across Long Island), I have been examining Long Island’s water quality problems and solutions for the better part of two years. Based on this assessment, it’s very clear that we need strong local organization and leadership to achieve the goals and attract the resources associated with any state or regional clean water action plan that is being considered for Long Island. Most importantly, however, is the fact the North Fork has a unique set of water quality challenges, so the importance of local insight, expertise, organization and commitment will be invaluable in setting and reaching clean water priorities that truly reflect the needs of our community,” he said.

The need for regional solutions were echoed by Glynis Berry, Peconic Green Growth president. She said, “We need community involvement in the process as solutions to our water problems will vary from community to community and people must understand both the problems and the solutions as they pertain to their location.” Glynis added, “Next generation septic systems, both stand-alone and multi-family/community types, will play a part in solving our nitrogen pollution problems but they will only have an impact with continued cooperation between the county, the towns, and community groups.”

The North Fork Clean Water Action group was founded by and is supported by the following groups: Group for the East End, Group to Save Goldsmith Inlet, North Fork Audubon Society, North Fork Environmental Council, Peconic Baykeeper, Peconic Green Growth and WATERWASH Projects. Its mission is to raise awareness of water quality issues and to bring people and groups together with elected officials to design, debate, and implement fair and equitable courses of action to protect our environment, health, and quality of life on the North Fork.

Contact:
Jennifer Skilbred
631-899-3651 • jskilbred@eastendenvironment.org
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Peconic Estuary Rewards Program

Peconic Estuary Rewards Program Money Available; Demonstration Project Being Developed with Help of Local Girl Scout Troop

April 15, 2014 - The Peconic Estuary Program (PEP), one of 28 National Estuary Programs, has been working to protect and restore the Peconic Estuary for over 20 years. One of the factors negatively impacting water quality in the estuary, along with nitrogen from sewage, is stormwater runoff.  This is water that picks up pollution and travels toward the bay bringing contaminants with it. Two good ways to deal with stormwater runoff include: eliminating/reducing the use of potential contaminants (i.e. pesticides and fertilizers) and giving stormwater a chance to be used by plants or be absorbed into the ground.

In order to address this stormwater runoff issue, PEP with the support of Group for the East End (GFEE) and New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission is offering a unique rewards opportunity for residents in the Hashamomuck Pond watershed in Southold (as well as residents in the Reeves Bay watershed in Flanders). This educational project will help homeowners reduce runoff from their property, which will decrease the amount of pollutants ending up in nearby waters. Rebates are being provided to eligible homeowners who use native plants by installing rain gardens or conservation landscaping on their properties.

This Saturday PEP and GFEE will be working with local Girl Scout Troop, Service Unit 60 of Cutchogue, to develop a demonstration rain garden at Downs Farm Preserve in Cutchogue. These types of landscaping projects reduce runoff by reducing the amount of water leaving your property after a storm, and reduce fertilizer use often associated with turf grass. This demonstration garden as well as the rebate program will be available for viewing and will provide an opportunity for residents to learn more about the Peconic Estuary and ways they can help protect and restore this local treasure. Also eligible for a financial reward (and available for viewing at Downs Farm Preserve) is the installation of a rain barrel. Rain barrels catch water that would otherwise run off your property and put it to good use, like watering your flowers or vegetable gardens. This program was launched last fall and there has been quite a bit of community interest. However, there is some funding remaining, and more applications are being accepted. Spring gardening season is upon us, so send in your application today! http://www.groupfortheeastend.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Guidelines-Hashamomuck-Rewards.pdf

For more information please visit www.PeconicEstuary.org or contact Jennifer Hartnagel at Group for the East End (jhartnagel@eastendenvironment.org).

Contact:
Jennifer Skilbred
631-899-3651 • jskilbred@eastendenvironment.org
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GFEE and Assemblyman Fred Thiele Applaud NYS DEC for Adding Contaminated Sites to its Online Database

November 15, 2013 – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is making additional information on contaminated sites available to the public on its website. They have added ~1,950 contaminated sites statewide, that were previously not available to look-up and were not easily accessible to the public.

Making this information public allows people and local municipalities an opportunity to understand the location and extent of sites which contain potentially hazardous conditions associated with groundwater and soil contamination. These sites while in neighborhoods throughout New York State, and known to the DEC, were mostly unknown to the public until now.  In the past, the DEC provided information on ~2500 other contaminated sites in its database, but did not share information on these ~1950 contaminated sites because they had different classification statuses.

Group for the East End has long called for increased awareness, transparency, and access to sites the DEC has been investigating but hasn’t made public.  “We believe the earlier the public and municipalities are knowledgeable about contamination, the more capable we all are of making informed decisions about protecting ourselves and the environment,” said Jenn Hartnagel of Group for the East End.

Group for the East End and Assemblyman Fred Thiele had been working on a state bill for the past three years that would have required the posting of these sites to the DEC’s online registry. “We applaud the DEC for taking this important step,” said Assemblyman Fred Thiele, “improving transparency and providing this information to the public will benefit our community and our local environment.”

To view the newly listed contaminated sites please visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/cfmx/extapps/derexternal/index.cfm?pageid=3 or search “New York State DEC Environmental Site Remediation Database Search.”

Contact:
Jennifer Skilbred, Senior Environmental Advocate
631-765-6450, ext. 212 • jskilbred@eastendenvironment.org
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East End Medication Disposal Program Launches Oct.21

East End Medication Disposal Program Launches Oct. 21

Part of Long Island Water Quality Improvement Campaign

SOUTHOLD, NY – Group for the East End (the Group), with support from Suffolk County, has established the East End Medication Disposal Program, which allows and encourages residents to throw out unused medications in a medication drop box, permanently located at participating police departments.  For decades people were told to flush unwanted medications down the toilet. Today, water quality research and monitoring data show that prescription and over-the-counter medications, when flushed down the toilet, can contaminate drinking water, harbors and bays.  Little is known about the impact on human health and the environment.

The medication drop box is secure and no contact with police is necessary.  According to Group president, Bob DeLuca, “There has long been a need for a simple, safe and confidential way to properly dispose of medications on the East End, but now everyone can be assured that their unwanted medications don’t find their way into our bays, harbors and drinking water.”

For more than 40 years, water quality has been a top priority for the Group in its work to protect and restore the natural resources of eastern Long Island.  The Group, together with the Long Island Pine Barrens Society, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, and The Nature Conservancy are developing a Long Island Clean Water Partnership (longislandcleanwaterpartnership.org), as part of an island-wide effort to protect and restore water quality. DeLuca says, “The East End Medication Disposal program is just one regional component of a larger overall strategy to protect and restore Long Island’s vital water resources. We are grateful to all the police departments participating in this venture.”

Proper disposal of medications can also help prevent drug misuse, abuse, and harm to children and pets.  According to Jeremy Samuelson, Executive Director of Concerned Citizens of Montauk,   “The medication disposal program educates our families and neighbors while diverting chemical waste from our drinking water supply.  This is a huge step forward in taking better care of the resources that make our lives possible.”

New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele noted, “I applaud Group for the East End, Suffolk County and the Police Departments for being part of an initiative that will protect the public and environmental health of the East End.  This consistent, convenient program will keep medicines out of our beautiful and ecologically important drinking, ground and surface water resources.” 

Medications Accepted:

-         Expired or unwanted over the counter medications, including pet medications

-         Prescription drugs including antibiotics and controlled substances

-         Pills, powders, liquids and EPI pens 

Items Not Accepted:

-         Syringes

-         Medical waste

-         Mercury thermometers 

Participating Police Departments:

Southampton Town Police Department, East Hampton Town Police Department, Southold Town Police Department, Shelter Island Town Police Department, Village of East Hampton Police Department, Village of Sag Harbor Police Department, Village of Westhampton Beach Police Department, Riverhead Town Police Department

Medication drop box accessibility hours can be found at GroupfortheEastEnd.org/meds.

Contact: Jennifer Hartnagel (631) 765-6450 x211 or jhartnagel@eastendenvironment.org

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