Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 6, 2011


The New York State Senate and Assembly passed legislation that will help protect the residents of Staten Island from phragmites fueled fires. The bill (S.4377/A.7463), authored by Senator Andrew Lanza and Assemblyman Michael Cusick, requires the Department of Environmental Conservation to establish a residential fire break permit for the borough of Staten Island, and allows property owners to cut and remove phragmites from their property. The entire Staten Island delegation cosponsors the legislation.

"For too long, DEC was more concerned with protecting these non-native invasive weeds then they were about enacting policies that protect residents and their property,” said Senator Lanza. “This bill will prevent the DEC from thwarting property owners the right to protect their property. Homeowners should not have to ask permission to protect their homes and lives. This bill will empower private homeowners with the ability to remove this dangerous weed from their properties without waiting on the ‘OK’ from DEC.”

“This is common-sense legislation,” said Assemblyman Michael Cusick. “Property owners have the right to diminish fire-starting risks that pose a threat to their homes. This is about the safety of our citizens and our community.”

“DEC policies and the weeds’ propensity for fueling summer fires put the lives and property of Staten Islanders in jeopardy while forcing local first responders to risk their safety to battle these often fierce blazes,” said Assemblyman Lou Tobacco. “By allowing homeowners to remove this hazard from their property and by replanting our wetlands with native vegetation, our legislation will greatly reduce summer fires and protect the lives and property of Staten Island homeowners.”

"I am happy we were finally able to pass common sense legislation to fix a situation that for many residents of Staten Island has become a nuisance and a danger,” said Senator Diane Savino. “Hopefully this legislation will give the residents of South Beach and others around the Island a new tool for fighting brush fires."

Assemblyman Titone said, “During the summer months dangerous brush fires fueled by phragmites are all too frequent on Staten Island. Allowing our residents to create a fire break is a common sense approach to saving homes and reducing risk to our first responders.”

"As a representative of Staten Island's east shoreline, I have seen my district suffer from brush fires as a result of these dangerous weeds time and time again. With this law, homeowners will now be able to protect their property and lives," said Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R,C-East Shore). "This legislation is a true victory for the people of Staten Island, and its passage is a perfect example of the wonderful things that our delegation can accomplish when we work together.

The legislation was signed by the governor on Aug. 3 and expires Dec. 31, 2012.

Read a press release at link.


City Closes Cayuga Inlet in New York Due to Hydrilla

By Laura Shepard
The Cornell Daily Sun

Mayor Carolyn Peterson closed the Cayuga Inlet to all boat traffic and declared a state of emergency on Wednesday in order to eradicate hydrilla, an invasive plant that officials worry will spread to Lake Cayuga, by applying an herbicide.

Hydrilla was first sighted in the inlet on Aug. 4 and has already covered 95 acres of waterways in the City of Ithaca, including Cascadilla Creek and State Marine Park. Some areas are completely covered in dense plant material, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s website.

Shutting down the lake will prepare the inlet for herbicide treatment and help to prevent the plant from spreading, according to Prof. Holly Menninger, natural resources. Menninger is a senior Extension associate and coordinator of the New York Invasive Species Research Institute.

“It’s important to get boats to stop moving, and the only way to do that is to shut down the inlet,” said Roxy Johnston, watershed coordinator for the City of Ithaca.

Johnston said that boat owners inadvertently transport hydrilla by cutting and fragmenting the plant, enabling it to spread faster....

Reactions to the inlet closure were mixed. Some officials said they wish the city closed the inlet earlier.

“It’s about time, isn’t it?” said Wade Wykstra, commissioner of the Board of Public Works and chair of the Ownership Committee for the Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Plant, who is also running for mayor. “The use of herbicide makes me nervous, but I also have an idea of the harm hydrilla will do, not just to Cayuga Lake, but to all of the lakes. I know what the herbicide is and, in this case, I trust the judgement of the people who’ve decided to use it.”

According to Johnston, some believe that if the city had taken action earlier, boat owners would not have had to struggle with the decision to voluntarily comply.

Some boat owners will have to reschedule plans to move their boats to marinas at the north end of Cayuga Lake, Menninger said.

“[Hydrilla] affects all of the marinas in town in terms of being able to do business, and not in a good way,” said Dennis Montgomery, the owner of two businesses operating out of the Ithaca Boating Center.

Read the full story at link.


No comments: