Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Newsday article - Advocating Removing Yaphank's Upper & Lower Lake Dams on Carmans River

Are these guys serious!!?  It has to be a joke. 



Carmans River seeing higher water temps due to Yaphank dams, advocates say

Environmentalists Kevin McAllister, left, and Doug Swesty, at Upper Lake in Yaphank on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, say that after monitoring the Carmans River, they found water temperatures rising. Photo Credit: Newsday / John 




















Colonial-era dams in Yaphank are causing higher water temperatures in parts of the Carmans River and should be removed or opened, environmental advocates say.

The groups Defend H2O and Sea-Run Brook Trout Coalition say the dams create thermal pollution by artificially spreading out the water and slowing it down, allowing it to collect heat. Restoring the flow would reduce temperatures, halt the spread of invasive species and return natural fish passage routes to the river, reducing the need for costly dredging and other treatments, they say.

"It's essentially being a giant solar collector," said Doug Swesty, a member of Sea-Run, a nonprofit regional group founded to protect and restore brook trout populations and coastal watersheds.

The two dams, built in the 1700s, created Upper Lake and Lower Lake and were home to successful sawmills that provided lumber to area residents and business.

Several government agencies would have to sign off on removing or breaching the dams because the Carmans River is state-designated as a "wild, scenic and recreational river"; is an important trout habitat; and is within the central pine barrens, where use and development are limited.

The two environmental groups placed temperature sensors in both 

lakes between May and September, and found that water in Lower Lake 

was above 80 degrees at times — as much as 10 degrees higher than 

Upper Lake — because the thermal pollution had so warmed the Upper Lake's 

water before it traveled to the nearby Lower Lake.

"It's clearly having an effect on water temperature," Defend H2O founder and president Kevin McAllister said. "All roads lead to these impoundments."

The Carmans is one of Long Island's largest rivers. Eight of its 10 miles are freshwater, fed by groundwater from the aquifer.

Several years ago, attempts to remove the dams created an outcry among residents, prompting Town of Brookhaven officials to focus on building fish ladders and other passages to enable movement of trout and other species, said Anthony Graves, Brookhaven Town's chief environmental analyst.

"The first thing you need is community buy-in. We didn't have that," he said. "The community was dead set against the removal of the dams. They consider them to be the heart of the community."

Residents formed the Coalition to Save the Yaphank Lakes and continue 

to advocate for keeping the dams in place because of their historical significance. 

In conjunction with the Yaphank Historical Society, they also petitioned to have 

Upper Lake renamed Willow and Lower Lake to Lily to match historical records, 

said Robert Kessler, who is president of both groups and lives along one of the lakes.

"Yaphank grew up between the two lakes. They drew people to Yaphank from all over," he said. "The dams are not coming down. That is not happening."

Because the Carmans is a certified trout spawning river, state law prohibits thermal discharges above 70 degrees into the water body, Swesty and McAllister said.

During the summer, they documented water temperatures above 70 degrees in Lower Lake, beneath the first dam.

"We are going to push the issue," McAllister said.

Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman

 Jomo A. Miller, however, said the regulation does not apply 

to "water flowing over an existing dam," but to discharges from 

human activity, such as sewage treatment plants or industrial operations.

Both dams are considered low hazard and are inspected as needed, Miller said. Some deficiencies were found in Upper Lake's dam when it last was inspected, in May 2009, but no formal violations were filed. Lower Lake's inspection was in October 2011.

Invasive species — such as cabomba, a weed — have infested the two water bodies. Brookhaven Town's plans to dredge Lower Lake were postponed in 2014 after cost overruns and delays. A year earlier, the project was canceled because Upper Lake dredging flushed too much sediment into the water, turning it cloudy and violating a DEC permit, Graves said.

"Those invasive species don't do well in a free-flowing river," he acknowledged.

Nationally, removing dams has grown in popularity as a means of restoring wetlands and reducing the need to dredge or treat for invasive species every few years.

"Dams are like any infrastructure," said Amy Kober, senior communications director for American Rivers, a nonprofit conservation group based in Washington, D.C. "Any time they age, they need what may be costly repairs. They can also outlive their usefulness."

An estimated 1,185 dams from California to Maine have been removed since 1936, with 72 taken down in 2014, according to American Rivers.

"The wonderful thing about rivers is they're so resilient," Kober said. "They can really come back to life pretty quickly."

DEC recommends dam owners inspect their impoundments every three months and after big storm events. Design guidelines revised in 1989 say trees and brush are not permitted because they can hide sinkholes, animal burrows and other stability threats.

"Trees eventually die and their roots decay and rot," the DEC said on its website. "The root cavity leaves a void within the dam through which water can enter and flow."

At the Upper Lake dam, trees and brush cover the slope of the structure, while branches, leaves and other debris are in the river bed. Steel bars have been installed across the width of the opening, appearing to shore up the concrete walls.

At Lower Lake, wire fencing obscures much of the dam, which is bordered by crumbling sidewalks and plant and tree growth.

"Just from the standpoint of crumbling infrastructure, something is going to have to be done pretty soon," Swesty said.

The 2013 Carmans River Conservation and Management Plan recommended that the integrity of Lower Lake's dam be evaluated, and if rebuilding is decided, a manufactured fish passage should be considered.

A fish passage for Upper Lake dam also was recommended. Funding is approved for a new spillway and fish passage, and should happen next year if permits are approved, Graves said.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Importat Information Re: Suffolk County/Solar City - Solar Array Proposal

From: Slaughter, Joshua

To Whom It May Concern:


As many of you have probably seen, the proposal to construct solar arrays on wooded, public land in Yaphank and Bellport has been getting a lot of attention the past few weeks. While the Bellone administration has yet to submit a contract for approval to the legislature, this is expected in early 2016, Legislator Browning has introduced two resolutions that are before the Ways and Means Committee next Thursday, December 10 at 12:30pm in Hauppauge. Your support for these resolutions is appreciated. Anyone from the public can speaks for 3 minutes during the public portion.  


I have attached the two resolutions, IR 1926-15 and IR 2014-15, which directly impact this plan and land in question.


IR 1926-15 was tabled at the last committee. The resolution would effectively prevent the administration from moving forward with drafting a contract until the Legislature took action to approved the plan.


IR 2014-15 is a new resolution that seeks to create a Master Plan for the Yaphank County Center, and places a moratorium on any projects for the area until that plan is in place.


The County owns hundreds of acres of land in Yaphank which were acquired decades ago to accommodate the future expansion of County offices and operations. In recent years, as it has become apparent that the County will not need to use the entirety of its Yaphank holdings to house government offices, so numerous uses for the property have been proposed. The prior County administration proposed the enormous mixed use “Legacy Village” at Yaphank, which was ultimately rejected. Some of the Yaphank property was dedicated to parkland in 2011, and another 2011 resolution (Resolution No. 298-2011) declared 247 acres of property as surplus and directed the Division of Real Property, Acquisition and Management to offer the land for sale or lease to maximize the monetary return to the County. In 2013 the County sold 230 acres of the Yaphank property to Oakland Transportation Holdings for the purpose of establishing a rail transfer station. The latest proposal at Yaphank would allow a private entity (Solar City) to clear dozens of acres of woodland to allow for the installation of solar arrays for a minimum term of twenty (20) years.


The County has no cohesive or cogent plan to guide the use and management of its Yaphank holdings, and has instead pursued a piecemeal and scattershot approach. IR 2014 would convene a committee, comprised of experts in planning, advocates for the environment and members of the local community, to determine the best way to utilize the Yaphank land.


Your presence and support next Thursday is greatly needed and appreciated.


Joshua P. Slaughter
Suffolk County Legislature 
Legislative Aide, Media Contact, Third Legislative District
1120 Montauk Hwy., Suite G
Mastic, NY 11950
Phone: (631) 852-1300 Fax:(631) 852-1303

Thursday, December 3, 2015

New Old Inlet in LI Nature Conservancy newsletter

Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2015 9:32 AM
Subject: New Old Inlet in LI Nature Conservancy newsletter






Friday, October 9, 2015

BVA Fall Litter Clean-up

From: Brookhaven Village Association [] On Behalf Of Brookhaven Village Association
Sent: Friday, October 09, 2015 1:00 PM

BVA Fall Litter Cleanup 10/17/15  10AM

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Fall Litter Clean up


Sponsored by

The Brookhaven Village Association

Saturday, October 17th, 2015 at 10AM

Meet in the Brookhaven Fire Dept Parking Lot

Trash Bags & Work Gloves Provided

For more information call:

BVA Quality of Life Chairperson, Jeffrey Jensen at 286-2128


Copyright © 2015 Brookhaven Village Association, Inc., All rights reserved.
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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fire Island National Seashore - Wilderness Breach Management Plan

From: National Park Service - Denver Service Center <>

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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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. [] On Behalf Of Brookhaven Village Association, Inc.
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2015 10:36 AM

Recent events in Brookhaven Hamlet

View this email in your browser

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,

Saturday, January 17, 2015

FW: Hiking Fire Island today

From: Martin VanLith



My high school friend Dennis Fagan and I have hiked Fire Island every year on our birthdays since the late 1960s. Today was really fun. 

Text is above the pictures.

Nope, not a Muslin burka. It's Dennis dressed for a cold day on the ocean beach. Today, Jan 16, is Dennis's 70th birthday 




 25-30 MPH WNW wind -



 Pretty much the same blowouts still there from Irene (2011) and Sandy (2012), nothing new. Ocean did over-wash these blowouts in a December nor'easter but it seems to have done little damage. Overall the beach seems to be in good shape, slowly rebuilding.



 We're in the middle of the island in a area that once was a swale but now covered with washed over beach and dune sand -




 There are sections of the island that weren't damaged at all, looks the same as before Irene. - 





 The former small oases of scrub pines that used to dot the old Burma Road are all dead.  





Pictured is the east side approaching the reopened Smith's Inlet -



 There is a sand bar now that stretches from near the island northward to Pelican Island -



 outgoing tide -






 Didn't see any whales, seals or turtles. They may have been around but the ocean was too rough to see anything in it. -  



 If you are interested, I also took some video of the inlet.