Press Release Archives

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: or search “New York State DEC Environmental Site Remediation Database Search.”

Jennifer Skilbred, Senior Environmental Advocate
631-765-6450, ext. 212 •

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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 (, 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

Contact: Jennifer Hartnagel (631) 765-6450 x211 or

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New Campaign Focuses on Pollution Threats to Long Island’s Water

Long Island Clean Water Partnership Kicks-off Public Education Campaign about Water Quality

Farmingdale, New York September 10, 2013 –The Long Island Clean Water Partnership, a group of leading conservation organizations (including Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Group for the East End, Long Island Pine Barrens Society, and The Nature Conservancy), today announced its public education campaign. The campaign will make the public aware that nitrogen from sewage is polluting groundwater, bays and harbors and we must take action to fix this problem.

Over the course of the coming months, the Partnership’s plans include grassroots organizing, an advocacy campaign and an interactive website ( The Partnership will show television “spots,” release results of public opinion surveys and tell families what they can do to help protect water quality at home.

The Long Island Clean Water Partnership will bring together scientists, planners, advocates, public officials, and concerned community members to address declining water quality on Long Island in a comprehensive way.  Together they will build support for solutions to local nitrogen pollution problems aimed at reducing harmful red and brown tides and fish kills.

“On a regular basis this summer beaches and shellfishing areas were closed due to surface water pollution. The culprit is aging sewer and septic systems, which leak nitrogen into Long Island’s groundwater. This can lead to red tides, brown tides, dying sea life, and shellfish harvesting closures due to the toxicity that accumulates in the clams and oysters,” explained Dr. Marci Bortman, director of conservation programs for The Nature Conservancy on Long Island. “Polluted groundwater has even started to infiltrate the deep aquifers that supply Long Island’s drinking water.”

The concern for Long Island’s waters is growing. Long Islanders feel that water quality is getting worse – and overwhelmingly express a resounding desire specifically to upgrade water quality standards to abate the biggest water quality threat– nitrogen pollution. Fully 85 percent support setting a new government standard to reduce levels of nitrogen pollution.  Support for clean water is so important that voters are willing to help pay for the necessary improvements according to polls being shared today.

“Polling research shows that Long Island residents care a lot about clean water,” said Bob DeLuca, president of the Group for the East End. “When people are informed and engaged, they actively support measures to reduce contamination and improve water quality. We all have good reason to make sure our water supply is clean and healthy.”

“Long Islanders have strong personal connections to our waters,” said Adrienne Esposito, director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Water defines life on Long Island, whether it is to swim or go to the beach, fish or clam, hike, watch birds or wildlife, boat or kayak. Even Long Islanders who drink bottled or filtered water still have to shower, bathe and cook with water from the tap. People want to do whatever it takes to keep these resources clean and healthy.

“Over the last 20 years drinking water and surface waters have become significantly polluted and are becoming worse daily,” said Richard Amper, executive director of the Long Island Pine Barrens Society. “Long Island’s elected officials need to take action now to protect our most valuable natural resource –our water –before it’s too late.”

The partnership is working with scientists and engineers to explore a number of policy and municipal solutions including stronger water quality standards and upgrading sewer and septic systems with the potential to reduce pollution levels and protect Long Island’s way of life for future generations.

For more information, visit or


The Long Island Clean Water Partnership is a group of leading conservation organizations (including Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Group for the East End, Long Island Pine Barrens Society, and The Nature Conservancy) who are bringing together scientists, planners, advocates, public officials, and concerned community members, to address the issues related to declining water quality on Long Island.  The Partnership is working with academic researchers, officials, and a diverse cross-section of citizens to develop a strategy that will transform ideas into lasting outcomes.


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Group for the East End Advocates for Preservation of 400 Acre “Hills Property” in East Quogue

August 27, 2013The “Hills Property” located in East Quogue is over 400 acres of natural land that is essential to protecting water quality in the Town of Southampton and beyond.

As you may know, Long Island’s water quality has been degrading over recent years and will continue to do so, if we do not protect natural areas such as this as well as manage nitrogen pollution from sewage, pesticide use, and other toxic contaminants.

Group for the East End, Senior Environmental Advocate, Jenn Hartnagel, has brought together 19 local organizations to support the preservation of this crucial property. In a signed petition provided to the Southampton Town Board on Tuesday evening, the groups provided scientific evidence to backup the statement that this large swath of natural area helps to protect water quality. The site also contains Pine Barrens habitat, which supports rare species such as the Pine Barrens Buck Moth, and preservation of this parcel is supported by the East Quogue Generic Environmental Impact Statement.

For more information on Group for the East End, please visit:


Jennifer Skilbred, Senior Environmental Advocate

631-765-6450 ext.212




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GFEE Excited to Take Part in 40th Anniversary Wine Celebration

August 16, 2013Group for the East End is once again one of the featured beneficiaries for this year’s Harvest East End event hosted at the McCall Vineyard & Ranch in Cutchogue.  Billed as The Wine & Food Classic, the event is presented this year by Wine Enthusiast and will take place on Saturday, August 24 from 6:00–9:30PM.

This year’s event is a celebration 40 years of winemaking in Long Island Wine Country.  The boom in winegrowing on the East End has resulted in a transformation of the region into a vibrant agritourism-based economy.  Along with past beneficiaries, East End Hospice and Peconic Land Trust, Group for the East End is honored to share proceeds this year with the Long Island Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Foundation.  Harvest East End raised $46,000 for the three beneficiaries when the event was held at the Hampton Classic Horse Show in 2012.

“In commemoration of our 40th Anniversary, we are looking forward to hosting our premier event on the North Fork, where the seeds of our wine region were planted.  The McCall Vineyard, which also is a working cattle ranch, will create the perfect backdrop to what will be our best Harvest yet,” said Ron Goerler, Jr., event chair, proprietor and winemaker at Jamesport Vineyards, and president of the Long Island Wine Council.

The evening will showcase the region’s world-class wines from 42 Long Island winemakers and will feature more than 30 top regional chefs.  Honorees this year are Louisa Hargrave and John Ross. Nearly 1,200 are expected to be in attendance for this annual event.

“This annual event is a wonderful mix of local food and wine that is created by such a vibrant and talented group of winemaking and culinary professionals.  We are very grateful to be one of the beneficiaries again this year, especially when celebrating 40 years of Long Island winemaking,” said Aaron Virgin, Vice President of Group for the East End.

Event sponsors for the 2013 installment include Wine Enthusiast Magazine, The Lincoln Motor Company, Cook Maran & Associates, Doods & Eder, Empire Merchants, E.W. Howell General Contractors, Grapes & Greens Agricultural Enterprise Zone, Sysco, VOXX International Corporation, Hotel Indigo East End, Dan’s Papers, Edible East End, Modern Luxury – Beach, Suffolk County National Bank, Times/Review Newsgroup, and Whole Foods Markets.

The Vin-IP Experience: Early admittance from 6:00 – 7:00PM, $250 per person or $2,500 for a reserved table of 10. General Admission: 7:00 – 9:30PM, $150 per person

For more information on Harvest East End and to purchase tickets, please visit:


Jennifer Skilbred, Senior Environmental Advocate

631-765-6450 ext.212,


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GFEE Proudly Endorses the Good Work of LI Sustainable Winegrowing, Inc.


August 16, 2013 – Group for the East End has officially endorsed the work of Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing (LISW), a not-for-profit organization that provides education and certification for Long Island vineyards.  “We applaud the efforts of LISW in becoming the first vineyards in the eastern U.S. to earn certified sustainable status,” said Aaron Virgin, Vice President of Group for the East End.  “It couldn’t come at a better time as the Long Island wine industry celebrates its 40th Anniversary this year. This is the right direction the wine industry should be headed in,” he continued.


Long Island winegrowers have joined a small but expanding group of sustainable winegrowers who care deeply about the environment. Oregon and California have similar programs, but on Long Island we are more intimately connected with our drinking water through aquifers below our feet and the close proximity of our farmlands to our creeks, bays and harbors.


There are currently ten “certified sustainable” vineyards:  Bedell Cellars, Channing Daughters Winery, Harbes Family Vineyard, Martha Clara Vineyards, One Woman Wines & Vineyards, Palmer Vineyards, Roanoke Vineyards, Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard, Shinn Estate Vineyards, and Wölffer Estate Vineyard.  Each vineyard will now be able to add the LI Sustainable Wine logo on their 2012 vintages.


An additional seven Long Island vineyards joined the LISW in 2013 and are in “transition” toward future certification include: Kontokosta Winery, Lieb Cellars, Mattebella Vineyards, Mudd Vineyards, Sparking Pointe, Surrey Lane Vineyard, and Water Mill Vineyard.


A key element to the LISW program is a third-party, independent inspector who monitors the certification process.  Allan Connell, former District Conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service has been tasked with overseeing a comprehensive checklist of nearly 200 sustainable grape growing practices.  Connell has referred to the checklist as one of the most rigorous he has ever seen during his multi-decade work as a government inspector.


“The announcement of our first certified sustainable vineyards strengthens the ecological leadership and social responsibility of the Long Island wine region,” said Richard Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars.  “The effort of creating meaningful, rigorous sustainable farming standards for grape growers proves that Long Island wineries are serious about making world-class wines that are ecologically sensitive.”


For more information on LI Sustainable Winegrowing, please visit:



Jennifer Skilbred, Senior Environmental Advocate

631-765-6450 ext.212,



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Bayscapes – Peconic Estuary Rewards Program Announced

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 is offering a unique rewards opportunity for residents in the Hashamomuck Pond watershed. This educational project will help homeowners reduce runoff from their property, which will decrease the amount of pollutants ending up in nearby waters.  It will also provide an opportunity for residents to learn more about the Peconic Estuary and ways they can help protect and restore this local treasure.

A pool of $50,000 will be used to reward homeowners who use native plants by installing rain gardens or conservation landscaping on their properties. 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.  Also eligible for a financial reward 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 is a pilot project and, if successful, may be expanded to other areas across the East End in coming years. Homeowners in the Hashamomuck watershed will be receiving a letter and guidelines inviting them to participate in the project. For more information please visit or contact Jennifer Skilbred at Group for the East End (


Jennifer Skilbred, PEP Education and Outreach Coordinator

631-765-6450 ext.212 Ÿ


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Southampton Adopts April 5-11 as International Dark Sky Week

The Southampton Town Board adopted a resolution on March 26, 2013 that designated April 5-11 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.

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, “We appreciate the Town Board’s support of International Dark Sky Week, which will help the Committee focus attention on the problems caused by light pollution and on the Town regulations that help curtail outdoor lighting that is excessive, misdirected, or unnecessary.”

Town residents and business owners are also encouraged to visit the Town of Southampton’s Dark Skies webpage at 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, Senior Environmental Advocate

631-765-6450 x212,


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