Letter from Dave Bergen in response to the post “Dredging is not looking good next year either”. Mr. Bergen is the Trustee who has taken the lead on dredging for the Town of Southold.
“I wish to provide our members with additional details related to this issue. I was first informed of this latest challege back the beginning of June and immediately contacted Congressman Bishop’s office, Senator Schumer and Clinton’s office. I then contacted a representative of the US Fish and Wildlife Service office for their perspective on the issue. I also contacted a representative of the Army Corp who would not comment on the issue. This involves the requirement of US F&W to sign off on the AC applications. In the past, this had been a simple check on a box. But policy changes which were made required the AC to complete a new report called an Endangered Species Habitat report. US F&W contacted the AC in April informing them of this requirement and requesting that the AC respond to their 6-7 page letter. As of about two weeks ago, the AC had yet to respond to their letter.
Fast forward to a meeting called by Suffolk County DPW about two weeks ago where each town was invited to send a representative. I attended the meeting. SCDPW shared with everyone this latest challenge, stating that the AC elected to require SC as permitee to fill out and submit this new report, which is different from the Essential Fish Habitat report which had caused major issues last Winter and Spring. SCDPW was provided with no information as to how to complete this new report. After the meeting I shared this information with representatives from Senator Clinton and Schumer’s office, in addition to Congressman Bishop’s office. General feedback received from them was that they were all very frustrated by this new challenge, and would try to break this logjam. I again requested via e-mail for them to lobby for an exemption to both the ESH report and the EFH report.
With regards to the EFH reports, SC did hire a consulting firm to complete these, but they reported that they have almost run out of the allocated funds for this firm. They had not completed any EFH reports for any of the Southold creeks. Everyone should remember that both of these reports are required for the AC permit. The DEC continues to be very cooperative with their permits.
The Town Board did approve my request to have our Environmental Technician take on the completion of an EFH report about three weeks ago. While she had started on the report, she has not been able to obtain the information necessary to complete the report. I requested help from a representative from the appropriate Federal agency but have not received a response to date.
Finally, Southold, Easthampton, Southampton and Riverhead have all agreed to work on a joint dredging priority list for this coming dredging season. Shelter Island has yet to respond to an invitation to participate in this meeting. I am coordinating the scheduling of this meeting this week and hope that it is held soon. The purpose of this meeting is to have the east end towns submit a comprehensive priority list for projects. SCDPW has supported this concept as it does not place them in the position of determining which creeks belong where on the priority list but rather allows for local input and advice.
In summary, to say that this is frustrating is an understatement. I again contacted Schumer, Bishop and Clinton’s offices last week to update them on the situation and to beg for their help. I would encourage everyone to also contact their offices and to lobby for Federal intervention to break this logjam and to release the AC permit.”