Year in Review: Wetlands, Pesticides and Jet Skis

Year in Review: Wetlands, Pesticides and Jet Skis

by Maria Maybee, Great Lakes United (GLU)

It is the time of year to reflect on all that the New York Network has experienced in the last year. Winter is here and the cycle of life continues as all life is settling into a winter rhythm in preparation for the warmth of spring.

First I would like to congratulate the Buffalo Audubon Society and the New York Conservation Fund. They are the New York recipients of funding from Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network and Fund fall grants cycle. The Buffalo Audubon Society is working to preserve the Klydel Wetlands. First they plan on changing the name. Klydel is the name of a developer who lost his attempt to fill in a portion of the 70 acres in the middle of a developed area of Kenmore, New York. There will be an educational nature trail added to complement the trails already established by the high school across the street.

The New York Conservation Fund is working on an international waste issue that may affect aquatic habitats locally. There is concern that the “product” classification given to Dombind, a toxic by-product of the pulp and paper industry in Trenton Ontario, is being sold to companies in the United States as a pelletizing agent in soil conditioners or a dust suppressant. Dombind is currently being used as a dust suppressant on Ontario’s dirt roads, with possibly devastating effects on aquatic life and habitats. Good luck to both groups and we look forward to more proposals in the spring.

Now I think this is a time to thank our good fortunes this year. The Zoar Valley Old Growth was not cut; New York State DEC decided it was not going to touch this area. Klydel Wetland is still thriving without buildings. The Genesee Valley Network has officially started. Many new volunteers helped with the beach clean up this year, and groups are eagerly working on the relicensing of dams across New York state. The Green North Tonawanda fought and won concerning the proposed Joseph Davis State Park golf course. The project was cancelled when 44 groups across New York state collaborated in opposition to another golf course. Hats off to Elizabeth “Liz” S. Kaszubski, Wetlands Chair, Sierra Club, Atlantic Chapter for looking out for aquatic habitat and ultimately the aquatic species. Thank Liz!! The Network is growing larger and the support for each other shows with every little success we have. With good fortune there is always a flip side. New York regretfully reports that thousands of migrating waterfowl have been found from Buffalo to Dunkirk along Lake Erie, ill and dieing from e-botulism, the source of which is still unknown.

Klydel wetland update

The 70-acre Klydel Wetlands, located just north of the North Tonawanda Senior High School, is protected by federal law and comes under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers. A wetland this size is a rare phenomenon in a city the size of North Tonawanda. This area has been the target of at least five development projects in the past four years.

The Green North Tonawanda, Sierra Club – Atlantic Chapter, Sierra Club – Niagara Group, Buffalo Audubon Society, Citizens for a Green North Tonawanda, Niagara Frontier Wildlife Habitat Council, Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Adirondack Mountain Club, Niagara Frontier Chapter and Great Lakes United requested an appeal of the decision of the New York State Department of Environment and Conservation to alter the boundary of the Klydel Wetland. A federal expert was assigned to investigate the disputed boundary and as of September, we have heard nothing. The Western New York Land Conservancy is in negotiations with landowners to purchase properties in this wetland.

Jet Skis in New York

In August, Governor George E. Pataki signed into law “The Home Rule” or Jet Ski Local Government Restrictions bill, A.8097-D / S.5309-C. This bill clarifies the authority of cities, towns, and villages to regulate the use of personal watercraft, commonly known as ‘jet skis.’ The bill specifically allows municipalities to designate the bodies of water where ‘jet skis’ are permitted or prohibited, the hours when they may be operated, and the speed to which they must be limited. Another plus for the environment is a new bill, signed by Governor Pataki in September, regulating jet ski air emissions.

This bill has taken two years from legislation to signing, for Peter Bauer, Executive Director of Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and a coalition across New York state. Peter stated “that a great statewide coalition supported this bill and in the end were successful because of a broad and diverse coalition.” Now local activists have an important tool. If anyone would like a working model of a local ordinance and supporting material, please call the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks at (518) 251-4257, or write them at P.O. Box 27, Ordway Lane. Or contact them if you just want to say thank you; I did.

Pesticide Reductions in New York

The New York State Pesticide Neighbor Notification Law requires schools and day care centers to provide certain advance notice to parents and guardians before pesticides are applied on their premises. The law also gives counties the right to pass local laws to require commercial pesticide applicators to provide 48-hour advance notice to abutting properties before most lawn pesticide applications, as well as markers posted when applied to large areas of the lawn. NYPIRG has developed a kit to help counties opt-in to the Neighbor Notification law, including a model law, supporting information, and sample campaign material for citizens. Interested citizens and local officials can request a copy of this kit by writing to NYPIRG, 107 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12210 or calling 518-436-0876 or 716-882-1549.

The “Pesticide Sunset” is a model local law of pest management that phases out the use of pesticides on municipal property over three years, starting with the most hazardous classes of pesticides. Within three years of adoption, all pesticide use would be phased out, with the exception of certain pesticides used for public health purposes and extremely low toxicity pesticides. Eight municipalities are phasing out pesticides in New York – two in the Great Lakes watershed include Buffalo and West Seneca.

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.