Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fire Island National Seashore - Wilderness Breach Management Plan

From: National Park Service - Denver Service Center <steven_culver@nps.gov>

Date: August 31, 2015 7:02:38 PM EDT

Subject: Fire Island National Seashore - Wilderness Breach Management Plan



Dear Friend,

The National Park Service (NPS) is in the process of making a decision to determine whether or not to close the breach that opened in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness Area (the wilderness) in Fire Island National Seashore (the Seashore) during Hurricane Sandy.

To assist in the decision-making process, the National Park Service is preparing an environmental impact statement (plan/EIS). The plan/EIS will analyze a range of alternatives for managing the wilderness breach.

The desired outcome of this plan/EIS is to ensure the continued integrity of the natural and cultural features of the Seashore and its surrounding ecosystems while protecting human life and managing the risk of economic and physical damage to the surrounding areas.

Your participation is vital to our planning process. There are a number of ways to be involved throughout the process, including participation in public scoping and the review of and comment on the draft plan/EIS.

The first step in the process is scoping. Scoping is an information gathering process through which we invite you to express your views on the information, issues, and alternatives that need to be addressed in the plan/EIS. The scoping newsletter is available for review and comment online at the National park Service park planning website at:


We have also included questions at the end of the newsletter #1 document for you to consider in your comments. Responses to these questions, as well as any other comments you may wish to provide, will help us in framing the issues and alternatives that will be evaluated in the plan/EIS. Comments will be accepted for at least 30 days. 


We look forward to hearing from you.


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National Park Service - Denver Service Center
| 12795 W Alameda Parkway | Denver | CO | 80228


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

U. of Rhode Island Research Re: Old Inlet, Newsday article Aug 19, 2015


Researchers mapping underwater landscape off Fire Island

A team of researchers from the University of Rhode Island is spending the summer piloting a small pontoon boat equipped with sonar to create a map of the underwater landscape near Sunken Forest on Fire Island.

The study is one of 17 ongoing projects the National Park Service and other agencies funded after superstorm Sandy on or near the Fire Island National Seashore to evaluate barrier islands and back bay areas.

The research -- focusing on undersea mapping, deer migration, water salinity, plankton levels, dune structures, salt marsh elevations and more -- will be used to help the park service decide whether to close a breach near Old Inlet that formed when Sandy hit in October 2012.

"Our main focus was to scientifically document what the response of the Great South Bay has been to . . . the Fire Island wilderness breach," said Charles Roman, a park service senior scientist overseeing the projects, some of which began soon after the storm.

The funding is $5.17 million, and some related research is taking place elsewhere, such as Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

"It's really to enhance our understanding of how barrier island ecosystems and back bay ecosystems respond to things like this breach," Roman said.

When Sandy hit Long Island, it tore breaches through Fire Island in three places. The cuts at Smith Point County Park and Cupsogue County Park were closed within two months by dredging in sand from offshore. But the third one, near Old Inlet, was in a wilderness area of the seashore where mechanical work is prohibited.

Seashore officials opted to monitor the breach and that presented researchers with a unique opportunity.

"There are very few studies that . . . document how these systems respond," Roman said. "That's due in part because when the breaches open they are often closed rather quickly."

Researchers from the park service, U.S. Geological Survey, Stony Brook University and elsewhere are doing the work, which should be completed by October 2016.

"All of this science is going to be compiled and used while we work on a management plan for the breach," Fire Island National Seashore biologist Jordan Raphael said.

Raphael, who helps coordinate visiting research teams, has been documenting vegetation and shoreline changes near the breach at Old Inlet, which was stable enough to allow shipping traffic from 1776 through 1836, according to "The Story of Old Inlet," written in 1952 by Paul Bigelow and William L. Hanaway.

The eastern edge of the breach is fairly stable while the western portion is eroding.

"It's almost doing the same exact thing the old inlet did a couple hundred years ago," Raphael said. "It looks as though it's following the same path.

"The University of Rhode Island team did underwater mapping near Otis Pike by the breach last year and is now focused on Sunken Forest by Sailors Haven marina.

Motoring at speeds of 2 to 3 miles per hour, the boat moves in straight lines as a side-scan sonar device in the water scans the seafloor out more than 80 feet in each direction.

"We're using sound to create a picture that basically looks like the seafloor," said Monique LaFrance Bartley, a marine research assistant at URI's Graduate School of Oceanography in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

As the boat moves, high- and low-resolution images are transmitted to a computer. Sea grass looks like tiny clumps of cauliflower while anchor marks or sailboat hull marks look like long scratches.

On another round of trips, a clawlike machine will extend from the boat to grab clumps of seafloor. Those samples will be compared to the sonar results in a sort of truth test to verify the interpretations of the scan.

In the end, an underwater map much like the kind used to mark points of interest on land will be created, marking out sea grass beds, shellfish sites and other locations. Knowing that, the park service can manage access or interpretive information for visitors.

"[The park service] . . . really haven't undertaken any serious underwater habitat mapping studies," Bartley said. "It's really more to help them better manage what they have."

Another research project is examining deer migration and vegetation regrowth in overwash spots in Otis Pike. In many spots, Sandy uprooted and scattered dune vegetation. Researchers are looking at how that vegetation returns and how deer feeding on it influence recovery, said H. Brian Underwood, an adjunct associate professor at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse.

 "The beach dune grass is coming back pretty quickly," he said. "We know a lot of things about deer on Fire Island but we know very little about the establishment of primary vegetation in overwash areas."

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Brookhaven Hamlet Thefts

From: Brookhaven Village Association, Inc. [mailto:bvamail=brookhavenvillageassociation.org@mail227.atl121.mcsv.net] On Behalf Of Brookhaven Village Association, Inc.
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 10:36 AM

Recent events in Brookhaven Hamlet

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Over the last several weeks, there has been a rash of car robberies.  Unlocked cars have been ransacked and anything of value was stolen.  Some vehicles had their windows broken to gain entry.  The reported incidents were on Beaver Dam and Old Stump Roads, Newey and Library Lanes, and cars on Marie Court were broken into as recently as Monday.  These thefts occurred during the late night and early morning hours.

This information is being disseminated in an effort to keep our membership informed of events occurring in the community.  Please take proper precautions with your home and property.


BVA Board


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Friday, May 29, 2015

Forgotten Heros No More

Forgotten Heroes No More  

With Support of Legislator Browning, Brookhaven Hamlet Honors its Soldiers from America’s First Four Wars

(Pictured left to right standing in front of the newly installed memorial are: Tom Williams, John Deitz, Legislator Kate Browning and Councilwoman Connie Kepert)


            Brookhaven, NY – On Memorial Day this past Monday, May 25, the Brookhaven Hamlet community held its annual ceremony at the Fireplace Road Neck Rd. memorial to honor the brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our Country. The memorial specifically acknowledges the local soldiers that resided in the area and served our Country. For the first time, with the assistance of a grant from Legislator Kate Browning (WF-Shirley), the site included a plaque commemorating the local heroes from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War and the Spanish American War.


                     Brookhaven Hamlet and its surrounding communities have a rich history dating back before America’s Independence, and its residents throughout history played an important role in securing and preserving America’s freedom. That is why the local Fireplace History Club reached out to Legislator Browning in 2014 to help include local heroes from wars that were not yet recognized at the memorial site. Fire Place History Club Chair Martin Van Lith and Tom Williams from the Post Morrow Foundation inquired about County funding, and Legislator Browning was able to secure a $5,000 grant to pay for the creation and placement of the bronze plaque. John Deitz conducted all the research for the plaque that includes 45 individuals that answered the call to duty during America’s first four wars.


                     “Suffolk County, and in particular Brookhaven Hamlet, played a vital role in our nation’s independence,” stated Legislator Kate Browning. “Since the American Revolution Brookhaven residents have continued to serve and protect America and its values. It is critical that we recognize all of those individuals, and I am happy to have assisted in ensuring that all the men and women that answered our Country’s call are recognized for their contributions.”                                                                                                                                               


                        “This recognition of the Brookhaven hamlet Patriots who fought in our nation's first four wars was long overdue,” stated Fire Place History Club Chair Marty Van Lith. “The members of the Fire Place History Club had this plaque made to correct that oversight and bring more awareness of those residents' sacrifice and service.”






Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Environmental group raises concerns about Brookhaven Town landfill


Environmental group raises concerns about Brookhaven Town landfill

A study commissioned by a Long Island environmental advocacy group said Brookhaven officials don't do enough to monitor possible groundwater and air pollution caused by the town's landfill.

The 11-page report, released this week by Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, is based on dozens of town and state documents obtained by the group through Freedom of Information requests. The report concludes that "data that has been reviewed . . . does not support that Brookhaven is doing any due diligence to protect surface water and streams."

Brookhaven officials Tuesday defended their monitoring program and said the report was "replete with errors."

Citizens Campaign executive director Adrienne Esposito said the $10,000 report was prepared on behalf of the Brookhaven Community Coalition, an umbrella group of civic organizations representing residents living near the 192-acre landfill. The town accepts construction and demolition debris and ash at the facility, which brings in net revenue of $30 million a year, town officials said.

Residents have long complained of foul stenches from the landfill and expressed concerns about a plume that runs beneath the community.

"Air quality is a very big deal to the community," Esposito said in an interview on Monday. "They just need to know, and they deserve to know."

The report was prepared by Consulting for Health, Air, Nature and a Greener Environment, or CHANGE, an environmental consultant in upstate Queensbury. Chief executive Timothy R. McAuley said efforts to find documents outlining the town's monitoring program were unsuccessful.

Town officials yesterday criticized the report, saying CHANGE officials did not visit the landfill or discuss their concerns with the town.

"I think it would be very helpful to have an exchange," Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said in an interview. "I think we all want to have a landfill with less risk."

Waste management commissioner Matt Miner said the town monitors air and water quality and pays the state $104,000 for an environmental engineer to monitor the site.

Brookhaven resident Dave Wahlfeld, who lives about a mile from the landfill, said he hopes the report spurs officials to address the community's concerns. "There's just times when the smell is just horrible, burns your throat," he said.



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Recent Picture of Smith's Inlet, Fire Island, NY

An interesting aerial photo on Stony Brook University's School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences website, taken by a John Vahey on Jan 17, 2015, showing the inlet with the frozen Carmans River in the background.

Smith's Inlet by Marty VanLith

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, Smith’s Inlet is back with us. Reopened during Superstorm Sandy after 175 years of lying dormant, Smith’s Inlet is Old Inlet’s original name, located directly south of Brookhaven hamlet on Fire Island about a mile west of Smith’s Point County Park.

Since its first recorded existence, Smith’s Inlet has had a long and fascinating history. During the early 1770s, shortly before the American Revolution, a storm created the inlet though Judge William Tangier Smith’s manorial property on Fire Island. Some early maps called it New Inlet or South Inlet as well as Smith's Inlet; other early maps had no name for it. However, in 1834, the New York State Legislature passed a law “to preserve the grass on a part of the south beach” and used the phrase “heretofore known and designated as Smith’s Inlet,” indicating that the inlet was already known by the name “Smith’s Inlet” at the time the law was passed.

This early inlet was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing for fishing and commercial vessels in the settlement of Fire Place, the colonial name of Bellport, Brookhaven and South Haven. A curse once the war started and the British blockaded the inlet, using it to supply their troops. They built Fort St. George adjacent to Judge Smith’s home across from the inlet to guard it. (The Tangier Smith’s Manor of St. George is a museum today and is open to the public.)  During the War of 1812, the British once again blockaded Smith’s Inlet, and it is said there were many skirmishes there. When Smith’s Inlet first opened it may have been a mile or two east of where it ended some 60 years later (inlets move westward over time). In an 1827 storm, a Spanish ship loaded with millstones sank in the channel of the inlet. Then another ship, the Syracuse, loaded with a cargo of salt, became entangled with it and sank. Over the years sand built up around the hulks, and by 1836, the inlet was essentially closed to sailing vessels.  The area where Smith’s Inlet was then became known as Old Inlet.

In 1912, a group of local residents formed a membership corporation and purchased 3.2 acres about three quarters of a mile to the east of the remnant of the closed inlet (still there) and SSW of Carmans River, directly south of Mott Lane in Brookhaven hamlet. They then formed the Old Inlet Beach Club and built a boardwalk, pavilion and bathing houses. In 1959, another beach club, the Fire Place Beach Club, was formed and purchased 1.2 acres adjacent to the Old Inlet Club.

In 1964, federal legislation was passed creating the Fire Island National Seashore, and the land of these two clubs was condemned and acquired. FINS let the Old Inlet Beach Club dock and boardwalk remain, and used the name Old Inlet to designate a free dock and access to the ocean beach. In 1980, the Old Inlet area became part of the National Seashore's Otis Pike Wilderness Area.

It is interesting to note that section 8 (b) of the federal legislation that created the National Seashore strongly recommended the construction of an inlet across Fire Island. One of the few benefits of Superstorm Sandy was to provide the funding and construction for this desired inlet, unfortunately washing away the Old Inlet boardwalk and dock in the process.

Concerns about the inlet causing flooding on the mainland have since been laid to rest, and we are now in awe of the beneficial things that have resulted from the inlet’s reopening. It is an astonishingly beautiful natural inlet fitting for a Wilderness Area.

But I urge caution to Squassux Landing boaters and bathers. Smith’s Inlet is a wilderness inlet, wild as a beast. Just remember that on Nov. 5, 1813, its first iteration killed eleven of our Fire Place fishermen.

 --Martin Van Lith,