To the Editor:
In connection with Tilcon’s proposal to quarry protected watershed for 50 years, and the mandated environmental study on the impact to the watershed on such a change of use, I read with interest Mayor Stewart’s recent statement that she has “every confidence that the comprehensive four-season study will result in an independent, professional, factual and data driven report on the environmental impacts of creating a reservoir.”
This is not a four-season study. When questioned recently at a Water Planning Council meeting as to when the biological/ecological survey work started, the consultant said “the end of February or March 1st.” He anticipates “submitting a draft of findings in the summer/early fall.” This is in 2017.
As to the rest of the months (and seasons), he said there’s “really not a lot going on.”
The Northern Long-eared Bat is a federally threatened species that lives in the protected watershed. The watershed is also home to several migratory bird species, and the taking/removal of its habitat without a permit is illegal under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Neither are being studied.
There is also a concern about the study methodology. The consultant is using a “randomized habitat/activity based route” to study breeding birds. An environmental expert indicated that method will document only the presence of species that can be identified by sight and sound and the resulting data will not produce an avian abundance estimate for any species.
As to it being “data driven,” the state agencies who will ultimately review the study have requested that all the data (not just conclusions or summaries) be in the report, which the consultant had agreed to do. However, the consultant’s July 28, 2017 status report states “Summaries of data will be provided.” Conclusions without data are questionable.
I don’t share Mayor Stewart’s confidence that this report will be a “comprehensive four-season study.”
Paul E. Zagorsky