Monday, June 13, 2005

Sound Stewardship Program: What Does it All Mean?

Tonight marks the start of a series of public meetings to discuss the Long Island Sound Stewardship program, which is part of the Long Island Sound Study.

The stewardship program has been in the planning or gearing-up stage for several years, and it's one of those things that I've always thought probably worthwhile even thought it was never exactly clear to me what it was supposed to accomplish. The program's brochure, which is available from the LISS site (the link is in the righthand column), says the point of the program is to:

identify, enhance and protect special places throughout the Sound and adjacent near-shore areas.

The components of the program are natural area protection, more public access, and important habitat protection. Because environmentalists are no longer allowed to do anything unless they first prostrate themselves to business and development interests, the program seeks to balance conservation, recreation and commercial uses.

Which reminds me that at the first Long Island Sound Citizens Summit, back in 1991, Carl Safina argued that the Sound's problems were caused by the lack of balance between development and the environment. It's the developers and commercial boosters who are now arguing for "balance," and environmentalists have fallen for it, he said. In order to "balance" development and the environment, we need to start outweighing things in the direction of the environment. Here's how Safina put it:

The idea of balanced development is a trick. I don't see how you can have balanced development.

But I digress. The bill that would fund the stewardship program has yet to pass, probably because Chris Shays is sponsoring it and, until he recently brought Dennis Hastert, the right-wing Speaker of the House in to help him raise campaign funds, Shays was persona non grata among House Republican leaders. Perhaps sucking up to Hastert will make a difference.

The question is: What difference would it make?

The Stamford Advocate reported that on Friday EPA's Long Island Sound office released a list of 17 places in Connecticut and 15 in New York that will be on the list of stewardship sites.

How they "released" this list is a mystery to me; my friends Robert Burg and Mark Tedesco certainly didn't "release" it to Sphere. As a result, all I know as of now is which places are on the Connecticut list.

It includes a number of them that are obviously already protected and open to the public (Hammonasset State Park, for example). It includes the lower Connecticut River, which has been the focus of The Nature Conservancy's Last Great Places program. And it includes the components of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge (Milford Point, Falkner's Island, the Norwalk Islands). So I'm not sure what the stewardship program will do for them.

But here they are (when I get the New York list, I'll add it***):

Norwalk River
Barn Island, Stonington
Bluff Point, Groton
Charles Island, Milford
Duck Island, Westbrook
Hammonasset Beach, Madison
Falkner Island, Guilford
Great Meadows, Stratford
Great Neck and Goshen Point, Waterford
Lower Connecticut River, Old Saybrook, Essex, Deep River, Lyme and Old Lyme
Milford Point, Milford
Quinnipiac River, New Haven
Rocky Neck, East Lyme
Sandy Point, West Haven
Watts Island, East Lyme
West Rock Ridge, Hamden and New Haven.

Here's the list of stewardship meetings:
June 13, Norwalk City Hall, Council Chambers, 125 East Ave, Norwalk
June 14, Sage Hall, Yale University, 205 Prospect Street, New Haven
June 15, East Lyme High School, 30 Chesterfield Road, East Lyme
June 20, New Rochelle City Hall, 515 North Ave, New Rochelle
June 21, North Hempstead Town Hall, 220 Plandome Road, Manhasset
June 22, Endeavor Hall, Marine Sciences Research Center
Stony Brook University, Stony Brook

*** 1 p.m. A friend who is not a reporter but who received the press release on Friday has e-mailed me the list of New York sites:

1. Alley Pond – Queens, NY
2. Crab Meadow – Huntington, NY
3. Fishers Island Coastline – Southold, NY
4. Huckleberry & Davids Islands – New Rochelle, NY
5. Jamesport State Park -Mattituck Inlet – Southold, NY
6. Lloyd Neck – Huntington, NY
7. Manhasset Bay – North Hempstead, NY
8. Marshlands – Rye, NY
9. Mt. Sinai - Port Jefferson Harbor – Brookhaven, NY
10. Nissequogue River – Smithtown, NY
11. Oyster Bay (Mill Neck) – Oyster Bay, NY
12. Pelham Bay – Bronx, NY
13. Plum, Little and Great Gull Islands – Southold, NY
14. Shoreham – Baiting Hollow – Riverhead, NY
15. Stony Brook Harbor – Brookhaven/Smithtown, NY

2 Comments:

Anonymous Robert Funicello said...

Tom,

I'm emailing to you the LISS News Release on the Stewardship Public Meetings. The New York sites listed there are:

"PROPOSED AREAS IN NEW YORK

1. Alley Pond – Queens, NY
2. Crab Meadow – Huntington, NY
3. Fishers Island Coastline – Southold, NY
4. Huckleberry & Davids Islands – New Rochelle, NY
5. Jamesport State Park -Mattituck Inlet – Southold, NY
6. Lloyd Neck – Huntington, NY
7. Manhasset Bay – North Hempstead, NY
8. Marshlands – Rye, NY
9. Mt. Sinai - Port Jefferson Harbor – Brookhaven, NY
10. Nissequogue River – Smithtown, NY
11. Oyster Bay (Mill Neck) – Oyster Bay, NY
12. Pelham Bay – Bronx, NY
13. Plum, Little and Great Gull Islands – Southold, NY
14. Shoreham – Baiting Hollow – Riverhead, NY
15. Stony Brook Harbor – Brookhaven/Smithtown, NY "

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Main, Westchester Parks said...

Tom

The point of listing the recommended sites, albeit, already under some kind of protection, is for these places to serve as anchors in a region where additional sites are linked by similarities in their ecology, and where management of said additional sites might be accomplished in concert where a coordinated natural resourse management plan for the encompassing "Stewardship Area" would have a greater positive impact in supporting species and critical habitat. It may (we hope) also serve as leverage for the earmarking of additional funding for projects in the areas that support the idea of stewardship system management on a scale larger than just the "individual site", or for outright aquisition of threatened open space.

Further, rather than an individual site becoming a "slave to all masters", that is, attempting to satisfy the needs for recreation, public accessibility, management of fragile natural resources, and the potential commercial gain that might result from sound ecological management, a natural resource management plan (developed by the stakeholder managers) may find that one site in the region is better suited for one of the desired goals (like accessability), leaving the other areas to address something akin to habitat protection (i.e eelgrass beds; piping plover nesting sites, etc.).

Private landholders would be courted to adopt management practices that would support these goals, and would be able to apply for funding to initiate these practices on their property, signing onto a voluntary, but binding agreement insuring the prescribed practices would be followed.

An optimistic plan, yes. But what's wrong with a little optimism now and then?

1:34 PM  

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