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March 7, 2014 - 8:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, Attica, DEC, nature.

CORRECTION: It turns out there are two people from Attica named John Volpe who rescue turtles. There is John P. Volpe, who was arrested, and John K. Volpe, who is the person we met on Creek Road in 2012. We apologize to John K. Volpe and his family for the mistaken identity.

We met John Volpe two years ago after spotting a snapping turtle trying to cross Creek Road by Baskin Livestock.

Now Volpe is in quite a bit of trouble with the Department of Environmental Conservation for his collection of turtles and birds of prey.

When we met Volpe previously, he had stopped his car on Creek Road to carry the turtle out of the road. A short time later, Volpe's wife arrived and the couple took the turtle to their place in Attica.

Volpe explained to me that he and his father often rescue turtles. He said they would take the turtle home, ensure she (or he) is healthy. If healthy, and a female, they would hold her until she laid her eggs, then release her back into the wild, then raise the babies.

"Turtles mean a lot to us," said Volpe, who is Native American.

He is now facing state charges on alleged unlicensed possession of more than 100 live native turtles, including one live wood turtle, which is currently listed as a "species of special concern" in New York State.

Volpe is also accused of having numerous live birds that require a license to possess, including screech owls, great horned owls, a snowy owl, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, gulls, a blue heron and numerous other birds.

He was also allegedly found to possess taxidermy mounts of more than a dozen species of protected birds of prey including: screech owls, great-horned owls, snowy owls, barred owls, saw-whet owls, red-tailed hawks, Cooper's hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, kestrels and turkey vultures.

The  62-year-old also faces possible federal charges for taxidermy work on migratory waterfowl as well as possessing bald and golden eagle mounts and parts.

Volpe was allegedly found in possession in 2005 of two birds of prey. The birds were placed in a licensed facility, according to the DEC, and Volpe was given a chance to obtain a property license, but did not complete the process, the DEC said.

February 12, 2014 - 2:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, alexander, DEC, wildlife, Eagles.

A reader wants to know why she's seen Department of Environmental Conservation agents at a location in the Town of Alexander setting up a trap and watching it.

Kenneth Roblee, a senior wildlife biologist with the DEC's Buffalo office, said the DEC is trying to capture a mating pair of bald eagles that are known to range in the area so radio transmitters can be attached to the birds.

He and a partner have been trying to trap the eagles since early December.

The eagles are of interest to the DEC because their range includes the windmill farms in Orangeville.

"We want to collect information on their home range," Roblee said. "We want to track their movements in relation to the Orangeville wind project. We know the birds are in the area. They are nesting closest to a wind project as any pair of eagles in our region. We want to know how they interact with the turbines, if they approach them at all, and how the turbines might effect their habitat."

It's an important project, he said.

"The information would really help out our eagle management and protection program," Roblee said.

The trap contains bait and hidden netting. The DEC agents watch the trap and if the eagle lands and the timing seems right, little rockets fire and ensnare the eagle in the netting.

They almost got an eagle trapped on the 30th (of January), but it didn't quite work, so the agents are still trying.

The eagles are smart. The agents have to set the trap up in the dark of night. If one wire or rope or anything else isn't positioned as exactly how the eagle would remember it, the eagle will avoid the area. If the agents are spotted, the eagles will avoid the area.

Roblee asked that we only provide a general vicinity of where the DEC is setting up the trap. He said he and his associates try to keep the neighbors informed about what they're doing, but it's best if people stay away from the area because the eagles are so skittish.

The agents are using either a blind or staying in their vehicle while watching the trap.

The trap, by regulation, must be monitored at all times by two agents, and there also must be two agents on hand to handle the eagle if captured.

The DEC officials are being assisted by two experts in eagle capture, a woman from Watertown who has previously captured 14 bald eagles and another who has done a good deal of work over the years with bald eagles.

"It's a waiting game," Roblee said. "It's frustrating, but it's important information to have."

Photo: Provided by Roblee of an eagle with bait at a location.

November 15, 2012 - 7:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in DEC, hunting, outdoors, State Police.

Safety is every hunter's responsibility, Capt. Christopher Cummings, commander of Troop A, Batavia, told the press today, asking that the media help spread the message of hunter safety at the start of a new hunting season.

Since the 1960s, the number of hunting-related accidents in New York has decreased steadily, but that's no reason not to be as careful this year as any other year. That was the message of today's press conference.

"The important thing is that every individual hunter must realize that they have to make safety priority one when they go out into the field," Cummings said. "Every individual hunter is responsible for the integrity and reputation of hunting. They need to take the responsibility on themselves that they do carry that weight when they enter the woods with a firearm.

"It should be simple for the safety of hunters," Cummings added. "It should be simple. Every hunting incident that we investigate is preventable."

Capt. Frank Lauricella, Department of Environmental Conservation, offered several safety tips for hunters:

  • Always assume a firearm is loaded;
  • Make sure the muzzle is always pointed in a safe direction;
  • Keep the safety on and your finger off the trigger until you're ready to fire;
  • Wear hunter orange.

It's been proven, he said, that hunters wearing orange are seven times safer than those who do not.

He said it's also important to see your target clearly and what's beyond your target.

"It's very important to remember that once you discharge you cannot call back that projectile," Lauricella said.

January 15, 2012 - 11:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, DEC.

Press release:

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is asking the public to report any instances of deer appearing sick or acting abnormally. DEC is only investigating deer that appear to have died from unknown causes and not those that were killed by a vehicle, the agency announced today.

Anyone who sees a white-tailed deer acting abnormally or who finds a dead deer that was not struck by a vehicle is asked to report the animal to the nearest DEC regional office or to an Environmental Conservation Officer or Forest Ranger.

“One of the ways that DEC monitors the health of New York’s deer herd is by performing post-mortem examinations to determine the cause of the illness or death,” said Assistant Commissioner for Natural Resources Kathleen Moser. “We depend on information provided by people who are outdoors to tell us when they see something that does not look right to them.”

Recently, DEC indentified an uncommon bacterial disease in a deer from Warren County. This bacterial disease does not affect humans. However, DEC is seeking additional information to determine the prevalence of this disease in the deer herd and is responding to reports of deer that are acting abnormally. Deer with this bacterial disease may have a swollen head, neck or brisket. They also may exhibit excessive drooling, nasal discharge or respiratory distress. To aid in this investigation, DEC would also like to examine any deer that are found dead from unknown causes.

People should not handle or eat any deer that appears sick or acts abnormally. Sightings of sick, dying or dead deer should be reported to the nearest DEC regional office or an Environmental Conservation Officer or Forest Ranger.

October 30, 2010 - 2:37pm
posted by Billie Owens in steve hawley, DEC, outdoor wood boilers.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley announced this week the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has limited the impact of new regulations on existing outdoor wood boilers (OWBs).

The DEC cited the numerous comments received during the public outreach process that eventually led to the new proposal provisions. The provision to phase out the use of older OWBs in an earlier stage of the proposal was eliminated from the final text of the rule.

“Due to residents grassroots efforts through attending and participating in hearings hosted by the DEC, unnecessary regulations and costs were avoided for people who are already meeting current DEC regulations concerning OWBs," Hawley said in a news release.

"I applaud the effort of the DEC for recognizing the burden of forcing roughly 14,000 households statewide to replace their OWBs at a total cost of anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000 for a new unit.”

Hawley also added that he will now continue to push DEC to listen to citizens regarding the strict open burning regulations implemented last year.

He is currently a co-sponsor on NYS Assembly Bill 7414 which prohibits the DEC from restricting the burning of garbage, refuse or rubbish in an open fire on land owned by a single family, or any part of a farm, under certain circumstances.

June 16, 2010 - 4:01pm
posted by Billie Owens in DEC, hawley, outdoor wood boilers.

The overwhelming majority of those who attended a public hearing at Genesee Community College on Monday oppose rule changes for operating wood boilers.

About 14,000 New Yorkers have wood-boiler heaters as their primary source of heat in cold weather. Proposed regulations are said to make them unaffordable and costly to retrofit, creating an economic hardship for rural residents, according to Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

His chief of staff was among more than 100 people who attended the local hearing.

Residents have until July 2 to submit written comments to the Department of Environmental Conservation and Hawley is urging them to keep up their grassroots campaign urging the DEC to scrap the plans.

The agency is conducting public hearings statewide, giving information about the newly proposed regulations and getting feedback from those affected by them.

The DEC proposal would impose new regulations on operating requirements for both new and existing outdoor wood boilers. Outdoor wood boilers would have to be at least 100 feet from neighboring properties and would have to be at least 18 feet in height.

New York is the only state considering new regulations on existing wood boilers.

“Purchasing and installing new wood boilers can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000," Hawley said in a news release. "At that price, these new restrictions are simply
unaffordable for many people whose boilers already meet the current DEC regulations.

"With only about a hundred complaints over the last four years leading to these proposed regulations, clearly this is just another example of a downstate-controlled government agency circumventing the legislature to enforce a mandate."

October 21, 2009 - 5:09pm
posted by Billie Owens in DEC.

A bear purportedly seen in the vacinity of Bank Street Road and Hawley Drive in the Town of Batavia has not been confirmed by the Department of Environmental Conservation.

That doesn't mean the rumored sighting(s) near the college has no validity, just that the DEC has not received any reports about bears around there, from the public or field officers, said spokeswoman Lisa Silvestri.

"This is the time they are moving around though," she said late this afternoon. "They are looking for food, a mate or some place to hibernate. If a bear is pregnant or has young ones, she'll usually kick out her yearlings to fend for themselves."

They're especially keen on prowling for bird feeders, she said, and people in rural areas should not put them out until the bears have gone into hibernation for the winter.

"A lot of people don't know that," Silvestri said. "But bears love (bird seed)."

If you have seen a bear in the area, let the DEC know. The Region 8 office, which includes Genesee County, is in Avon and can be reached at (585) 226-2466, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m..


October 14, 2009 - 1:54pm
posted by Tasia Boland in batavia, DEC, new york.

This morning I heard the news of the new open burn policy effective Oct. 14. Here is the link from the DEC Web site regarding the new regulations.

What do you think about the new policies?

Here is the press release

September 15, 2009 - 12:41am
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, DEC.

New regulations proposed by the DEC on open burning could cost local governments more money, according to Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

The proposed regulations would prevent open burning in areas with populations of more than 20,000 people.

“While the DEC claims that there will be no additional mandates for local governments, that is clearly untrue," Hawley said in a statement. "In fact, the DEC admits that local government waste managements will have to expand in order to accommodate the increased amount of waste the burn ban will create.  Additionally, even though the DEC estimates that the additional cost to residents would be around $50 per ton of waste, Western New Yorkers’ household budgets are already squeezed too hard.  How much more ‘big government’ can our rural communities take?”

Hawley, who voted against a similar piece of legislation, A.5457 of 2007, when it came before the Assembly (the bill was held in committee in 2008).

Full press release after the jump:

September 11, 2009 - 1:44pm
posted by Steve Hawley in fire, steve hawley, DEC, regulation.



Outlines Effects of New DEC Statewide Burn Ban Regulations


Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia) today discussed his ardent opposition to the state Department of Environmental Conversation’s (DEC) new statewide burn ban regulations while appearing on a series of radio interviews, including WHAM Talk Radio.  The new regulations, which prohibit open fires in populations greater than 20,000, were announced by the DEC last week.


“While the DEC claims that there will be no additional mandates for local governments, that is clearly untrue.  In fact, the DEC admits that local government waste managements will have to expand in order to accommodate the increased amount of waste the burn ban will create.  Additionally, even though the DEC estimates that the additional cost to residents would be around $50 per ton of waste, Western New Yorkers’ household budgets are already squeezed too hard.  How much more ‘big government’ can our rural communities take?” asked Hawley, who voted against a similar piece of legislation, A.5457 of 2007, when it came before the Assembly (the bill was held in committee in 2008).


After the failure of such legislation to pass both houses of the State Legislature, discussions about instituting new statewide burn ban regulations began in the spring of 2008.  Immediately, Hawley contacted the DEC to express his opposition to the measure and his feelings that creating a new regulation, in lieu of a law, was circumventing the legislative process.  Additionally, that July, when the DEC held public hearings regarding the initiative, Hawley appeared before the panel to verbally express his opposition.


Due to the widespread opposition from rural communities regarding a statewide burn ban, the proposal was changed slightly to allow for a number of exemptions, including allowing on-site burning in towns with populations less than 20,000.  This and a dozen other exemptions were included as part of the DEC’s final burn ban proposal announced several days ago, yet no provisions were outlined to assist local governments in affording or accommodating the increased amounts of waste.  As detailed in the DEC’s “Express Terms 6 NYCRR Part 215:”


“This is due, for the most part, to the 6 NYCRR Part 360 Regulations which were promulgated on December 15, 1988. These regulations required each county to be responsible for the management and disposal of all municipal solid waste generated in their area. Most counties formed solid waste management associations and either built a landfill, built a series of transfer stations, or both. In turn, the municipalities which were now responsible for waste disposal would pay for the cost of disposal by raising taxes, charging fees at transfer stations, or both. For example, a rural community with a population of 1000 might expect their cost of transport and disposal of solid waste to increase by as much as $12,155.00 per year. This is based on data provided by the Division of Solid and Hazardous Materials and assumes the following worst case factors: one resident in three currently uses a burn barrel to dispose of their waste; an average person produces four pounds of solid waste a day; and the cost of transport and disposal of solid waste is $50.00 per ton…

“There will likely be a need for more employees (or employee hours) at rural solid waste transfer stations and at private waste haulers. Rural solid waste transfer stations are usually small facilities where residents bring their refuse, leaves, brush and recyclables. They typically consist of nothing more than a few roll-off containers into which residents deposit their wastes. When the containers are full, they are carted off to a permitted, composite lined solid waste landfill.


“Due to the potential increase in the amount of household waste, brush, and land clearing debris, communities may need to upgrade these transfer facilities. Most rural transfer stations are located on adequate land for expansion; many of them being located at a former landfill which was closed under 6 NYCRR Part 360 regulations. Upgrades would primarily consist of large trash compactors for household refuse, and wood chippers or tub grinders for brush and land clearing debris. Some communities currently rent tub grinders on a weekly or monthly basis to reduce brush/limbs to wood chips or mulch. These products can in turn be given back to the residents or used in municipal landscaping projects.”


As Hawley explains, “Sure, right now, a waste facility in a rural community may consist of just a few bins so, in theory, asking a local government to purchase a couple more bins doesn’t seem like a huge deal.  However, the reason why there is such little waste, as used in their statistics, is because in rural communities like ours, people burn their waste to keep it out of the landfills.  The statistics that the DEC is using are not realistic, therefore, the ‘marginal’ costs they estimate for our communities cannot be on target either.”


The DEC plans to submit their proposed regulation to the state within the next few days.  If approved, the new regulation would go into effect after 30 days.  However, Hawley has signed onto and supports A.7414, bipartisan legislation to prohibit the DEC from restricting the burning of garbage, refuse or rubbish in an open fire on land possessed by a single family or any part of a farm under certain circumstances.




June 4, 2008 - 8:49am
posted by Philip Anselmo in fire, DEC, environment.

Batavia will host a public hearing later this summer on the state's proposed changes to the open burning law. The Daily Mail in Greene County reported that the town of Athens is right now taking a closer look at those changes and urging residents to get involved.

"There are a lot of small communities in the state, particularly here in upstate New York, where burn barrels are used on a regular basis," said a Council member in Athens.

Open fires are currently banned only in cities, villages and towns with populations greater than 20,000.

Changes being considered by the state Department of Environmental Conservation would "limit agricultural burning to naturally grown products such as vines, branches, leaves and stubble." Exception will be made for "fire training, small cooking, campfires and ceremonial fires."

The hearing in Batavia will be held Juy 2. No other information was given about the session, its location or time.

DEC invites all persons, organizations, corporations and government agencies that may be affected by the proposed revisions to attend the hearings. In addition, written statements may be submitted to DEC until 5 p.m., July 10.

For more information on the proposals, information may be obtained from Robert Stanton, professional engineer, DEC’s Division of Air Resources, at the Albany’s Broadway address or by calling (518) 402-8403.

Is open burning an issue in and around Batavia? It's clear that agriculture has a major presence here. Would any farmers be directly affected by these changes? What is being burned now that would not be permitted if the changes go through?



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