02/19/13 3:00pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Canada geese in the Peconic River just south of Riverhead’s West Main Street.

Long Island environmental groups are planning a new campaign this spring with the slogan “It’s the water, stupid,” aimed at focusing on nitrogen, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other harmful substances making their way into the island’s ground and surface waters.

That’s according to Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, who was among more than 65 environmental group representatives who pitched ideas to state Senator Ken LaValle earlier this month, during his annual environmental round table at Suffolk County Community College’s culinary arts center in downtown Riverhead.

In addition to the increased frequency of algae blooms in the bays, linked to nitrogen from faulty septic systems, Ms. Esposito said 117 pesticides are found in Long Island’s drinking water.

Atrazine, the No. 1 weed-killer in America and one of the most common chemicals found in groundwater, has been banned in Europe because it is an endocrine disrupter.

But farmers and their advocates in attendance said some pesticides and fungicides are absolutely necessary on Long Island.

Deborah Schmitt, whose family owns Phillip A. Schmitt & Son Farm Inc. in Riverhead, made a tearful plea to environmentalists to back away from supporting a ban on all pesticides.

She said her family’s farm has participated in Cornell Cooperative Extension’s agricultural stewardship program, using compost and less synthetic fertilizer, but needs some chemicals to survive.

“We grow food for many people. This is how we make a living. We are in the business of farming,” she said. “We used to grow spinach, but we no longer have good weed control. We are losing our competitive edge as profitable agricultural businesses. We need pesticides, or plant protectors, whatever you want to call them, to grow food. We are almost at the point where we just might have to quit.”

She added that farmers must obtain licenses to ensure that they’re applying pesticides responsibly, while no such demand is placed on homeowners who use the same materials.

“I’m 55 years old. I have eaten conventional food all my life and I drink Long Island water,” she said. “My doctor says I’m healthy. I would never feed my family something that would make them sick.”

Ms. Esposito said she’s not requesting a ban on all pesticides, just the top three.

Ms. Schmitt responded, “Those are the ones we need most!”

Long Island Farm Bureau executive director Joe Gergela said his organization wants to find common ground with environmental groups on pesticide issues.

“We, too, as farmers, are concerned about pesticides,” he said, adding that 95 percent of pesticides in groundwater are “legacy” chemicals that are no longer in use.

“We need alternatives. We’re not going to ban medicine. We’re not going to ban cars and trucks on the highway,” he said. “We can’t ban pesticides. They have a place in our society.”

Also on the issue of groundwater pollution, Peconic baykeeper Kevin McAllister asked why the state DEC has not responded to a request he made last September that it review sewage treatment plants on Long Island that are not in compliance with their DEC permits.

“It’s poor regulatory policy,” he said. “There was not even a legal response to my request.”

Jeremy Samuelson of the Concerned Citizens of Montauk also implored Mr. LaValle to help waterfront communities put in place innovative coastal zone management plans in light of the devastation from Hurricane Sandy.

“The reality is, we need state leadership to ID appropriate funding sources,” he said. “It’s obvious to us in Montauk that we need to have these conversations in advance of the storm.”

Mr. LaValle said the federal government is just beginning to help communities do just that, and he urged leaders in all local towns to take advantage of the opportunity to plan for the future.

Mr. Samuelson also thanked Mr. LaValle for helping pass state law to protect sharks.

“Given what we do, it’s a professional courtesy,” quipped Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who was also in attendance.

byoung@timesreview.com

02/15/13 11:29am

It’s likely to be a snowy and windy weekend, but the National Weather Service believes the East End will be spared a major snowfall because a coming nor’easter is expected to track to the east of Long Island in the Atlantic Ocean.

“We do expect to feel some impacts, although it does not appear to be a major impact at this time,” said Tim Morrin of the National Weather Service offices in Upton.

The first wave of the storm will pass from the southwest to the northeast over the region tonight, possibly dropping as much as one inch of wet snow and rain, Mr. Morrin said.

But today’s weather, which is expected to be in the high 40s, will keep road surfaces warm enough to keep any major accumulation from happening tonight.

“It looks as though there may be a brief period of mixed precipitation later this evening, very light, probably no more than an inch,” he said.

The main portion of the storm is expected to develop Saturday afternoon, though “the storm track appears to be far enough off the coast out into the Atlantic not to give the local area major impact,” he said. “At this point we do not expect a major snowstorm. Eastern Long Island could see a few inches.

“It’s too early to pinpoint but it could be upwards of three and maybe four inches.”

Mr. Morrin said at 11 a.m. Friday that the NWS currently has “a fair amount of confidence” that the low pressure system will be far enough offshore that it will not have a major impact on Long Island.

“We’re in a position right now where we’re close enough to the event that we’re gaining confidence of that,” he said.

High winds will be an issue for the East End, though, he said, with winds that could be between 30 and 40 miles per hour Saturday night and all day Sunday.

“We’re looking at a likelihood that it will be breezy from the north-northwest, but we’re not confident enough to issue a statement [about the wind speed],” he said. “It’s going to be watched closely.”

byoung@timesreview.com

02/15/13 11:29am

It’s likely to be a snowy and windy weekend, but the National Weather Service believes the East End will be spared a major snowfall because a coming nor’easter is expected to track to the east of Long Island in the Atlantic Ocean.

“We do expect to feel some impacts, although it does not appear to be a major impact at this time,” said Tim Morrin of the National Weather Service offices in Upton.

The first wave of the storm will pass from the southwest to the northeast over the region tonight, possibly dropping as much as one inch of wet snow and rain, Mr. Morrin said.

But today’s weather, which is expected to be in the high 40s, will keep road surfaces warm enough to keep any major accumulation from happening tonight.

“It looks as though there may be a brief period of mixed precipitation later this evening, very light, probably no more than an inch,” he said.

The main portion of the storm is expected to develop Saturday afternoon, though “the storm track appears to be far enough off the coast out into the Atlantic not to give the local area major impact,” he said. “At this point we do not expect a major snowstorm. Eastern Long Island could see a few inches.

“It’s too early to pinpoint but it could be upwards of three and maybe four inches.”

Mr. Morrin said at 11 a.m. Friday that the NWS currently has “a fair amount of confidence” that the low pressure system will be far enough offshore that it will not have a major impact on Long Island.

“We’re in a position right now where we’re close enough to the event that we’re gaining confidence of that,” he said.

High winds will be an issue for the East End, though, he said, with winds that could be between 30 and 40 miles per hour Saturday night and all day Sunday.

“We’re looking at a likelihood that it will be breezy from the north-northwest, but we’re not confident enough to issue a statement [about the wind speed],” he said. “It’s going to be watched closely.”

byoung@timesreview.com

02/03/13 9:58am
DIANE BONDAREFF/INVISION FOR THE NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY/AP IMAGES PHOTO  |  Louis Bacon, center, is presented the Audubon Medal and is joined on stage with Paul Tudor Jones, left, Holt Thrasher, second left, Chairman, The National Audubon Society and David Yarnold, right, President & CEO, The National Audubon Society, at the organization's first gala.

DIANE BONDAREFF/INVISION FOR THE NATIONAL AUDUBON SOCIETY/AP IMAGES PHOTO | Louis Bacon, center, is presented the Audubon Medal Jan. 17 and is joined on stage by (from left) Paul Tudor Jones, Holt Thrasher and David Yarnold.

Robins Island owner Louis Moore Bacon III was feted by the National Audubon Society for his conservation work at a gala at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan Jan. 17.

Mr. Bacon received the Audubon Medal, one of the highest honors in conservation, for his work preserving bird habitat on the 434-acre island and Cow Neck Farm in Southampton and restoring Clifton Point in the Bahamas and Springer’s Point on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Mr. Bacon recently helped the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund preserve its three-acres site adjacent to the New Suffolk docks where he keeps the boats used to access Robins Island.

“It is a wonderful honor to receive the Audubon Medal from the National Audubon Society, which for more than a century has fought tirelessly to protect and preserve our natural resources and environment for future generations,” Mr. Bacon said at the event. “Much like the conservationists who previously have received the Audubon Medal, including Stewart Udall, Rachel Carson and Ted Turner, I realize that this recognition cannot be a cause to rest, but a spur to continue our work.”

byoung@timesreview.com

01/15/13 6:00am

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter (left) in debate with Democrat Al Krupski at Martha Clara Vineyards Monday night, as both men seek the Suffolk County Legislature’s 1st District seat.

Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. today for the Suffolk County First Legislative District special election.

Republican Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter and Democratic Southold Councilman Al Krupski are vying for Ed Romaine’s seat, which he vacated after he was elected Brookhaven Town Supervisor in November.

Board of Elections representatives said Friday that voters will go to their usual general election polling places, except in Ridge, where voting has been moved from the Ridge Firehouse to the Ridge Elementary School, due to damage to the firehouse during Hurricane Sandy.

Voters who are unsure of their polling place can look it up here.

The first district stretches from Middle Island to Fishers Island and includes Shelter Island (until the district lines change next year).

Times/Review Newsgroup will be live blogging from the candidates’ headquarters tonight.

Mr. Walter and Mr. Krupski squared off in a debate Monday. Click here for full coverage.

byoung@timesreview.com