ANCRAM—If there’s something in Ancram that needs conserving, the town’s Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) is on it.
At the January 17 Town Board meeting, Kim E. Tripp, osteopathic physician (DO) and plant scientist (PhD), a member of the nine-member council, delivered the CAC’s year-end report for 2018. The list of the group’s achievements and activities is impressive even though many members have jobs monopolizing their time.
Among the topics the CAC provided input on at the request of the Town Board during the year was the land spreading of septage on a 55-acre Sawchuk Road property back in the spring.
At the time, Leo Flood was the acting president of Flood’s Spraying and Sanitation Service, a Dutchess County-based business registered with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to legally spread septage, defined as excrement and other waste material contained in or removed from a septic tank.
Neighbors complained of chronic illegal dumping practices such as overuse of the site when seasonally restricted and non-compliance with regard to lagoon maintenance and construction, and the smell, among other things.
The CAC prepared a memo of environmental concerns to the Town Board identifying potential impacts such as: the moderately-to-excessively drained nature of the soil there promoting high seep-through of the toxic dumped materials into adjacent soils and waterways; steep-slope topography promoting rampant erosion and run-off of dumped material, especially during rains, and that the site contained a trout-spawning stream that drains into adjacent wetlands.
Sawchuk Road is near the Columbia/Dutchess county line on Winchell Mountain.
Town Supervisor Art Bassin said at the January meeting that the septage dumping activity at the site has stopped and that Flood’s has lost its DEC permit to spread.
In a September 2018 email to The Columbia Paper, a DEC spokesman said, the DEC “directed Flood Sanitation to provide additional information in order to renew the required registrations for septage land application. This facility’s registrations are no longer valid. DEC is evaluating a course of action and will pursue enforcement action if violations are discovered.”
Councilman David Boice said he had spoken to a driver for Flood’s who said he was hauling material to Poughkeepsie because the firm was no longer allowed to dump in Ancram. Mr. Bassin said the firm had not completed its application to the DEC in a timely way. The situation came to “a good result,” said the supervisor.
Among other CAC activities Dr. Tripp reported that:
* Hudsonia has updated the Ancram Biodiversity Habitat Map based on field notes provided by the CAC and interpretation of recent aerial photo images
* CAC member Erin Robertson provides monthly Planning Board updates and seeks advice on applications with environmental issues
* A Nature Resource Conservation Plan brochure has been prepared by CAC member Claire Arnold and will soon be complete with some final graphic refinements
* CAC members walked the Doodletown Wildlife Management Area site to get familiar with the proposed area of clearing. They have attended DEC presentations and questioned the environmental impact of the proposed clearing of mature forest
* CAC members Choral Eddie and Jamie Purinton conduct water sampling for the Roe Jan Watershed Association at eight sites on the Roe Jan Kill from Hillsdale to Milan. The samples are tested for enterococcus. Although the kill is considered very good overall, some test sites in Ancram included high enterococcus readings and temporary swimming advisories were issued
* Prepared memos for the public about Giant Hogweed, Wild Parsnip and Friendly Night Sky Lighting.
In the coming year, the CAC plans to: prepare public education memos on reducing lawn chemicals and invasive Asian earthworms; join with the town’s Climate Smart Committee to prepare a memo about projected impacts of climate change on the region and how Ancram has been addressing the issues and can better prepare for anticipated climate changes.
The CAC conducts research, disseminates information and advises other town agencies in the management, development and conservation of the town’s natural resources. It is the CAC’s mandate to serve as an in-depth data base for all issues that pertain to the preservation and ecological well-being of the town’s flora and fauna.
The CAC’s mission is also to identify human activities or developments that may pose major threats to environmental quality, and to provide the Town Board with research and comprehensive analyses of the environmental impact of proposed land-use decisions on an “as-needed” basis.
The CAC meets the first Monday of every month, 7 p.m. at the town hall. These meetings are open to the public.
The next Town Board meeting is February 21 at 7 p.m. at town hall.
To contact Diane Valden email