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Deadline for comments about proposed remediation plan is Sept. 21

By Joanne Beck


Ex-Eaton remediation site
The targeted site for remediation by ex-Eaton Corporation at 34-40 Clinton St., Batavia, shown in green.
Image submitted.

Public comments about a remediation project on the city’s east side will be taken up to Sept. 21, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials say.

The project, first outlined in an April 21, 2023 article on The Batavian, is part of the Clean Water Act for Basket Place LLC, located at 34-40 Clinton St., Batavia. 

Action on the privately owned Basket Place parcel was to begin in May to address contamination, with a site-specific health and safety plan and a Community Air Monitoring Plan to be implemented during remediation activities. 

These plans were to establish procedures to protect on-site workers and residents and include required air monitoring as well as dust and odor suppression measures.

The applicant’s project description is "to remediate the soil and groundwater at the Ex-Eaton Site located in Batavia, NY. The remediation will be done by soil mixing using a zero-valent iron-based reducing agent to clean up current volatile organic compounds. Soil mixing will be done using large-diameter mixing augers and a small backhoe. No excavation is proposed. The project will impact 0.099 acres of Federal Wetlands which will be restored after remediation and proper erosion control measures will be implemented."

According to the state DEC, the State Environmental Quality Review determination found that the project is an "Unlisted Action and will not have a significant impact on the environment. A Negative Declaration is on file. A coordinated review was performed."

The state Historic Preservation Act (SHPA) Determination was that: 

"A cultural resources survey has been completed and cultural resources were identified. Based on information provided in the survey report, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) has determined that the proposed activity will have no adverse impact on registered or eligible archaeological sites or historic structures. No further review in accordance with SHPA is required."

From Coastal Management:

"This project is not located in a Coastal Management area and is not subject to the Waterfront Revitalization and Coastal Resources Act."

Opportunity for Public Comment:

Comments on this project must be submitted in writing to the Contact Person no later than Sept. 21, 2023.

Contact: Courtney M Scoles, NYSDEC Region 8 Headquarters, 6274 E Avon-Lima Rd, Avon, NY, 14414, or call (585) 226-2466 or email [email protected] 

Brownfield cleanup to begin next month at Basket Place site in Batavia

By Joanne Beck


A city site known for the creation of collectible woven baskets, novelties and other manufacturing purposes will soon be a scene of environmental cleanup at the edge of Batavia.

Basket Place LLC, at 22 Clinton St., is 22.9 acres and is bordered to the north by Clinton Street (Route 33), to the south by the Erie Railroad, and to the east and west by residences. Properties south of the Erie Railroad are commercial/light industrial in nature, with some residences intermixed, according to a state Department of Environmental Conservation Fact Sheet.

The site was used to manufacture agricultural and highway equipment from the mid-1920s until the early 1990s. The current owner operates a warehousing facility for baskets and novelty items. Beginning in the late 1980s and continuing into the mid-1990s, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the NYSDEC evaluated the site.

In the late 1990s, the previous site owner, O&K Orenstein & Koppel, Inc., conducted additional investigations after the site was sold to Basket Place, LLC. The on-site and off-site remedial investigations began in 2003 when CNH Industrial Baumaschinen GmbH entered into a Voluntary Cleanup Agreement (VCA). However, the Voluntary Cleanup Program was terminated by the NYSDEC in 2018.

The cleanup activities will be performed by CNH Industrial Baumaschinen GmbH with oversight provided by the state DEC, which has determined that the Remedial Action Work Plan submitted by GHD Consulting Services, Inc. on behalf of CNH, protects public health and the environment and has approved the plan.

Remedial activities are expected to begin in May 2023 and last about five months.

The goal of the cleanup action for the site is to achieve cleanup levels that protect public health and the environment. The key components of the remedy are:

  • Excavation and off-site disposal of contaminated surface soil across the Site.
  • Treating contaminated soil and groundwater through soil mixing with injection of In-Situ (i.e., in place) Chemical Reduction.
  • Bioremediation injection into the groundwater as a barrier to treat and prevent further off-site migration of groundwater contamination.
  • Collecting and analyzing post-remedial soil and groundwater samples to evaluate the effectiveness of the remedy.
  • Importing or reuse of clean material that meets the established Soil Cleanup Objectives for use as a cover system.  Placement of a cover system, including a demarcation layer over areas of spot excavations to address contamination remaining above commercial use soil cleanup objectives.
  • Restoring the site cover where it is compromised, or placement of a 1-foot clean soil cover.

New York's Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP) encourages the voluntary cleanup of contaminated properties known as "brownfields" so that they can be reused and redeveloped. The city of Batavia and Batavia Development Corporation have Brownfield programs for remediation and redevelopment of properties, such as the former Della Penna property on Ellicott Street, and the Creek Park property behind the ice arena.

These uses include recreation, housing, business or other purposes. A brownfield site is any real property where a contaminant is present at levels exceeding the soil cleanup objectives or other health-based or environmental standards, criteria or guidance adopted by DEC that are applicable based on the reasonably anticipated use of the property, in accordance with applicable regulations, the Fact Sheet states.

Action on the privately owned Basket Place parcel is to begin in May, and that will address contamination related to the otherwise known "Ex-Eaton Site" located at 22-40 Clinton St., Batavia. Refer to the green outline in the image above.

A site-specific health and safety plan and a Community Air Monitoring Plan will be implemented during remediation activities. These plans establish procedures to protect on-site workers and residents and include required air monitoring as well as dust and odor suppression measures.

Next Steps
After the applicant completes the cleanup activities, they will prepare a Final Engineering Report and submit it to NYSDEC. This report will describe the cleanup activities completed and certify that cleanup requirements have been achieved or will be achieved.

When state DEC is satisfied that cleanup requirements have been achieved or will be achieved for the site, it will approve the Final Engineering Report. DEC will then issue a Certificate of Completion to the applicant. The applicant would be able to redevelop the site in conjunction with receiving a Certificate of Completion. In addition, the applicant would be eligible for tax credits to offset the costs of performing cleanup activities and for the redevelopment of the site.

DEC will also issue a fact sheet that describes the content of the Final Engineering Report and identify any institutional controls (for example, environmental easements) or engineering controls (for example, a site cover) necessary at the site in relation to the issuance of the Certificate of Completion, the agency stated.

In 2019, remedial investigations continued at this site under the Brownfield Cleanup Program. Additional site details, including environmental and health assessment summaries, are available on NYSDEC's Environmental Site Remediation Database (by entering the site ID, C819022) HERE

Meanwhile, cleanup efforts have been scheduled to resume this spring at the defunct Batavia Iron and Metal on Bank Street. 

To learn more, go to the Brownfield Cleanup Program

Image of map from NYSDEC.

Batavia power plant gets green light for water withdrawal access despite municipal appeals

By Joanne Beck


Despite the letters of appeal with several reasons why city, town, and county officials did not want a company tapping into Batavia’s Well D, the Department of Environmental Conservation has ruled otherwise.

After a more than four-month review process of paperwork and supporting documentation from the applicant, Seneca Power Partners, and from city, town and county management and legal sources, the DEC has opted to grant Seneca a permit to “add Well D at the Batavia Well Field as a new permanent source of water supply.”

The permit has been granted for five years, with the option for Seneca Power Partners to reapply when that time is up.

“We have the same concerns we had when we issued the letters of concern (in July),” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said. “We outlined our concerns to the DEC, and we will meet with DPW and our legal counsel to determine the next steps.”

Tabelski wasn't quite certain how the DEC arrived at its decision, given some confusing supporting information. 

Environmental Analyst Guillermo Saar sent the municipalities and Brian Gregson of SPP a letter on Nov. 18 regarding the decision and reasons for the approval (PDF). In short, the permit authorizes the withdrawal of up to 698,400 gallons per day, or a total of  26 million gallons per year of water for the purpose of system maintenance, boiler make-up water, and non-contact cooling to support the generation of electric power in accordance with the terms and conditions of this permit. Water is to be withdrawn from a new groundwater supply, Well D, located at the Batavia Power Plant.

The longer version cites each reason stated by town, city and county officials, and DEC’s response to each. An example of DEC’s reasons includes a dispute about how much of an impact this additional water draw would negatively affect the county.

The opposing sides cited a significantly lower season average trend that “continues to exacerbate the overuse of the aquifer,” versus DEC’s determination that groundwater level data over the period from October 2007 through July 2022 “do not show that the drought experienced from 2015 to 2017 is indicative of a long-term declining trend in aquifer storage, but rather, a discrete event around which water levels recovered to statistically normal conditions.”

Or, with the Town of Batavia’s request to consider the “collateral environmental impacts” of this extra water taken for the company’s production needs, DEC reviewed statistics and prior water levels and found that the highest yearly draw for two decades, up to 2021, was 22 million gallons -- four million gallons less than what DEC has allowed.

A projected pumping rate of 700 gallons per minute, which is the equivalent of 1.08 million gallons per day, “would not adversely impact the Tonawanda Creek Primary Aquifer,” Saar said.

In the city’s letter of appeal, attorney George Van Nest argued that the DEC must determine that the proposed water withdrawal takes proper consideration of other sources of water supply that may become available.

First, that option was not listed by Seneca in the November 2021 Engineer’s Report included with the new Water Withdrawal permit application, Saar said. And engineers deemed the potential re-use of discharge water unfeasible “because the O-At-Ka discharge water is too hot for the Batavia Power plant’s cooling use.”

Overall, it was not the answer municipal leaders were hoping for.

“Genesee County was certainly disappointed by the DEC permitting Seneca Power a permit to draw water from Well D,” County Manager Matt Landers said. “The County and City will continue to monitor the water levels in the aquifer with the hope this additional draw doesn’t have a material impact on the City Water Plant’s ability to draw water during peak demand days in the summer.”

Water concerns have been on the rise, as the county has continued to see an uptick in demand, and drier summer weather, coupled with the need for updated aquifer systems that are part of an ongoing three-phase water project.  

"The county will continue to observe the use/access of the water,” Legislative Chairwoman Rochelle Stein said. “Our concerns will be noted to our state elected officials too. We rely on the ground water for a portion of our water supply.”

County Highway Superintendent and engineer Tim Hens has become the Paul Revere of water each summer, asking residents to temper their usage and warning that one day a serious drought could arrive.

He wasn’t too worried to hear the news of Seneca’s permit, at least not yet.

“There’s not a whole lot we can do at this point, it’s just going to be a wait-and-see. In most cases it shouldn’t be an issue for us unless we’re in periods of extended drought and groundwater has dropped precipitously,” Hens said. “We did do testing to show that their well could operate alongside of ours, and know we can handle short durations from both sources.”

However, it’s the long-term impacts on groundwater that have to be monitored, he said. And no one really knows for sure if and how much that may become a problem in the future.

At the beginning of July, City and Town of Batavia and Genesee County officials had joined forces to oppose the request for water that they believed could potentially affect the flow for area residents.

The three municipalities called upon environmental analyst Guillermo Saar of the state Department of Conservation to consider the burden that a request to draw 715,600 gallons a day would put on Batavia and Genesee County if granted.

Seneca Power Partners, a company at 163 Cedar St., Batavia, made the request through a permit application to DEC’s Division of Environmental Permits. The municipalities' response was swift.

“The major users of the Well Field (Genesee County, Town of Batavia, and City of Batavia) oppose this application and seek to help Seneca Power Partners find an alternative means to access untreated water for their operations. The aquifer directly feeds the Batavia Water Treatment Plant (owned by Genesee County, and operated by the City of Batavia) as a major source of drinking water,” the municipalities stated. “While the Tonawanda Creek also contributes as a source of drinking water, the quality and turbidity of the Creek make it a much less desirable source. Any excess extraction of water from the aquifer will force the Batavia Water Treatment Plant to rely more heavily on the Creek, and that will, in turn, increase the cost of municipal water treatment and decrease sustainability.”

In its application, a 662-page document stating its case with several supporting documents, Seneca Power Partners said that the use of water is “an integral part of the energy production process and is proportional to production.” More water is needed to produce more electricity. A simplified route the water takes looks something like this:

Water + heated by natural gas = steam = spins a turbine = goes into a generator = energy converted to electricity. The steam often evaporates and cannot be collected after the process, applicant John Trendowski, on behalf of the company, stated.

Prior coverage:

File photo of Seneca Power Partners' Batavia-based power plant on Cedar Street, by Howard Owens.

Cleanup to continue at former metals recycling company

By Joanne Beck


After nearly 50 years operating as a metal recycling business, and then sitting defunct for another dozen or so years next to Dwyer Stadium, Batavia Iron and Metal has been on a slow track for cleanup, and the next phase to get it back on the tax rolls has begun, said Jeff Wernick of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

DEC put out a call for bids to conduct remediation of approximately 50,000 tons of PCB-impacted soil for off-site disposal, backfill and restoration, Wernick said in response to The Batavian’s inquiries.

“DEC received four viable bids,” Wernick said. "The bids are associated with the remediation efforts under the State Superfund program. Work is being performed under a self-implementation agreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. DEC’s role for future use is limited to the completion of the cleanup activities and the release of the remediated site for residential or commercial use in accordance with local zoning ordinances.”

The winning bid award is expected in the fall, with work to start in the spring of 2023, he said. The scope of work is estimated to cost $15 million to $20 million. Remedial activities include the removal of PCB-contaminated soil, temporary water treatment, backfill, and restoration, including the transport and disposal of non-hazardous and hazardous soils. 

The site at 301 Bank St., Batavia, earned special attention from the Department of Environmental Conservation more than a dozen years after it went defunct and was abandoned. Cleanups had been initiated for neighboring properties and the business site from 2013 to 2018.

A DEC fact sheet from 2018 states that, based on the April 2013 Record of Decision, the cleanup included removal of contaminated soil and debris and from on-site and parcels located near the former facility. The Site operated as a metal recycling facility from 1951 to 1999.

Wernick said that another fact sheet with additional details will be issued prior to the start of this next construction and remediation work.

Batavia Iron and Metal aftermath
Batavia Iron and Metal also purchased and handled electrical transformers on the property. Two furnaces operated at the facility from the early 1970s until 1994 for the purpose of reclaiming wire and smelting white metals. Prior to the use of the furnaces, the facility utilized open burning in dumpsters in the yard to remove insulation from the wiring.

DEC is designing and implementing this cleanup to remove the contaminants that have migrated from the site onto City property, the Fact Sheet states. As part of the remedy, installation of sub-slab depressurization systems at three residences near the site was completed in 2013. In addition, a cleanup involving soil removal at three residences was completed in 2014.

Further work included soil removal and restoration activities along the rear property boundary of 299 Bank Street and 301 Bank Street. The goal of the cleanup effort was “to ensure the effective removal and proper disposal of contaminated soil and to restore the property with clean soil.” At least one neighbor — who lives next door to the defunct business — had complained about potential health issues from toxins leaching into his water system, and how his trees would not grow in the contaminated soil.

Work done in 2017 was performed by Nature’s Way Environmental of Alden, with oversight and inspection provided by DEC. Soil identified for remediation was to be excavated and disposed of off-site. All areas that were disturbed during the removal were also to be restored, and the same for any City of Batavia-owned roads, utilities, or other infrastructure impacted by the cleanup activities.

DEC and the New York State Department of Health approved a Community Air Monitoring Plan that required continuous air monitoring during all excavation and backfilling activities to ensure no additional contamination was released to the environment or adjacent properties during the cleanup.

The project is being funded and conducted pursuant to terms of the State Superfund program, intended for “Brownfield” areas that are contaminated with toxic waste and in need of remediation for safe future use.

To read the full Fact Sheet, go HERE

For prior coverage, go HERE

File photo of Batavia Iron and Metal Co. on Bank Street, Batavia.

A fluid issue pits Batavia company against city, town and county

By Joanne Beck


Just as the deadline for public comments was coming to a close Thursday, local municipalities were giving their reasons for opposing a request for what they believe is an excessive amount of water from City Well D.

The Department of Environmental Conservation is at the center of the request from Seneca Power Partners and opposing sides of the city and town of Batavia and Genesee County. DEC Communications spokeswoman Andrea Pedrick told The Batavian Thursday that “the public comment period ends today. DEC’s next step is to evaluate the application and any comments received to determine next steps.”

“The letter of opposition will be reviewed the same as any other public comments sent to DEC regarding this application,” Pedrick said. “It would be speculative to speak ahead of this review process.”

Seneca Power Partners surprised the municipality leaders with the permit request to draw 715,600 gallons of water per day from the city’s well for the company’s Batavia Power Plant at 163 Cedar St., Batavia. Such extraction of water daily could greatly affect the water supply for local citizens, the opposing letters stated in much more elaborated terms. (See Batavia company seeks permit for water, faces opposition)

The opposition ...
Batavia Town Supervisor Greg Post agrees with the reasons cited by city and Genesee County officials for opposing the application. In addition to letters sent by the other two municipalities, Post also sent a letter with additional ramifications if the request is granted.

One topic that has not been considered in the application or related reports is “the collateral environmental impacts,” Post said.

He has witnessed how excess demands on the aquifer downstream, primarily east and north of the city’s wellfield, he said. DeWitt Park, Seven Springs Country Club, Rochester Zen Center, Retreat at Chapin Mill, Horseshoe Lake, and Genesee County Fish and Game Protective Association (at Godfrey’s Pond) all depend on the water supply from this aquifer to maintain wetlands, ponds, lakes, and headwaters of Bigelow Creek “in the same manner consistent with the past several centuries," he said.

Post disagrees with SPP's environmental assessment that there are “no known significant individual or cumulative adverse environmental impacts” from the large withdrawal of water for Batavia Power Plant each day. Reports used as supporting documentation for SPP’s request were based mostly during low usage of the aquifer than more current times would show, Post said.

“Our concern is that any further demands on the aquifer that sustains this region’s people, industries, commerce, agriculture, and the ecological system should be looked at in more depth than the current assembled application,” Post said. “I would strongly ask that all parties demand the time to more thoroughly investigate the consequences of this permit issue.”

Genesee County is still weighing its options for how and if to respond if DEC grants the request, County Manager Matt Landers said. He wasn’t certain whether public hearings would be a future option, and the county is “handling the situation directly with DEC” right now while keeping the public informed through press releases of its correspondence with the agency, he said. To his understanding, “the permitting decision is solely in the hands of the DEC.”

“We obviously hope our letter speaks for itself to the DEC and they deny the application for the permit,” he said. “We are hopeful that an additional strain on one of the main sources of water in Genesee County is not put in place. Putting additional strain on the County’s ability to deliver safe, clean and reliable water to the residents of Genesee County is certainly not in our best interest.”

County Legislature Chairwoman Rochelle Stein said the county would like to “encourage NYS DEC to consider our comments of opposition to the request.”

“We will work in cooperation with our municipal partners as the review process evolves,” she said.

In response to The Batavian’s request for a worst-case scenario if the request is approved, Stein said that could be a “possible reduction of available raw water … for our residents and further water restriction possibilities.”

The applicant ...
In its application, a 662-page document stating its case with several supporting documents, Seneca Power Partners said that the use of water is “an integral part of the energy production process and is proportional to production.” More water is needed to produce more electricity. A simplified route the water takes looks something like this:

Water + heated by natural gas = steam = spins a turbine = goes into a generator = energy converted to electricity

The steam often evaporates and cannot be collected after the process, applicant John Trendowski, on behalf of the company, stated. Batavia  Power Plant tries to minimize its water usage and repairs any leaks within the system in a timely manner. Any wastewater generated will continue to be discharged to the city of Batavia sanitary sewer, treated by the publicly owned wastewater treatment plant for eventual discharge to Tonawanda Creek, Trendowski said.

As production increases, the need for additional water will also increase as there will be more evaporative losses. The facility will track water intake from the well and the city, as well as water discharged to the city of Batavia wastewater treatment plant, he said.

“Although after-efficiency processes may reduce water usage slightly, energy production is a water-intensive process. This project was selected from evaluated alternatives because Batavia Power Plant has struggled economically in the energy market over the last several years. By using the well located on the property on Cedar Street, the Batavia Power Plant can limit its intake water from the city of Batavia,” the application states. “The generation of electricity requires significant amounts of water for cooling purposes, which is proportional to energy production. By reducing the amount of potable water required from the city, the facility can alleviate some of these expenses.”


The water withdrawal by the city to supply water to Batavia Power Plant has occurred since 1996, and based on a hydrogeologic report for Batavia wellfield, “withdrawing water directly from Well D should not have an effect on the water supply for municipalities or industrial sources in the area,” the permit application states.

The application points to major tributary watersheds that connect to Niagara River and Lake Erie, including Tonawanda Creek, which is 1,538 river miles. The creek itself is not the best source of consumable water due to its high turbidity and need for treatment, city officials said in their letter of opposition.

In the letter accompanying SPP’s permit application, Brian Gregson, development manager of Seneca Power Partners, and John Trendowski, senior principal with C&S Engineers, Inc., are the primary representatives for the request.

Not familiar with Seneca Power Partners has seemingly operated under the public radar, with no company signage to indicate it’s even there (on Cedar Street near O-AT-KA), sparse information online, and few, if any, public mentions.

The permit application is now in the hands of the DEC for a final decision.



Top photo: National Grid transmission lines near the power plant; the plant on Cedar Street in Batavia; an aerial view provided within the application; power lines running from the National Grid lines to the power plant. Photos by Howard Owens.

$200,000 in grants available for youths to address local watershed challenges

By Press Release


Submitted image and press release:

New York Sea Grant, in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), today announced funding is now available for projects that engage youth under the age of 21 and address local watershed challenges and New York's Great Lakes Action Agenda priorities. A total of $200,000, up to $25,000 per project, in New York Great Lakes Basin Small Grants will be awarded.

As the map above shows, Genesee County is in the New York State Great Lakes Basin.

"These grants provide a unique and critical opportunity for the next generation of New York's Great Lakes stewards to become directly involved in learning about and developing smart solutions to address local watershed challenges," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "DEC looks forward to continuing to partner with New York Sea Grant to implement the solutions that will protect and enhance the Great Lakes for generations to come."

"We are excited to see applications for innovative projects that include New York's Great Lakes' region youth in activities that will increase their awareness and knowledge of environmental and conservation issues," said New York Sea Grant Associate Director and Cornell University Cooperative Extension Assistant Director Katherine Bunting-Howarth, Ph.D., J.D., Ithaca.

Educational institutions, including, but not limited to, public and private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities, not-for-profit organizations, county and local government or public agencies, municipalities, and regional planning and environmental commissions are eligible to apply. Projects can include outdoor and in-classroom education, hands-on training, and formal and informal educational settings.

Applications are due by April 30; instructions are online here. For more information, contact New York Sea Grant at (315) 312-3042.

New York Sea Grant administers the New York Great Lakes Basin Small Grants Program in partnership with DEC. This small grants program is funded by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund. For more information on New York's Great Lakes Action Agenda, click here.

More information on New York Great Lakes Basin Small Grants projects and other New York Great Lakes-related information is here.

New York Sea Grant is a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, and one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, New York Sea Grant has promoted coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the state's marine and Great Lakes resources. New York Sea Grant maintains Great Lakes offices in Buffalo, Newark, and Oswego. The public can connect with New York Sea Grant at this website:

Iroquois refuge to hold newly added vet and active military waterfowl hunt Nov. 14

By Press Release

Press release:

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) announces that it will also adopt the newly added New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) veteran and active military waterfowl hunt on Saturday, Nov. 14.

This hunt will operate similar to the regular season waterfowl hunt in that individual hunting stands will be decided at 5 a.m. on the morning of the hunt through a random drawing.

The draw will be held at the Refuge Shop at 1101 Casey Road, Basom to ensure the safety of staff and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mapping applications may try to take you to Sour Springs Road, so ensure it is directing you to the Iroquois NWR Admin Building at the above address. 

This is a free hunt for veteran and active military personnel.

State regulations apply including required documentation, which can be found on the DEC website. Refuge specific regulations also apply. Please visit the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge website for more information.

Second Session of Waterfowl Hunting Season

Iroquois NWR will also be open for the second session of the waterfowl hunting season beginning on Nov. 28. Permits will be available online for all blinds on a first come, first serve basis.

Permits will be made available two days prior to the hunt day at 6 p.m. and close at 5 a.m. the morning of the hunt. You will receive your permit for your blind immediately via RecAccess. Since you will select your blind at check out, there will be no morning blind draw.

All other rules and regulations apply.  

For further information please see visit the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge website or contact Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge by email at [email protected] or Visitor Services Specialist Eric Schaertl at (585) 948-5445, ext. 7036.

Iroquois NWR is located midway between Buffalo and Rochester and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

DEC reminds people that residential brush burning is banned statewide March 16 through May 14

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today reminds residents that with spring approaching, conditions for wildfires will become heightened and residential brush burning is prohibited March 16 through May 14 across New York State.

“While many people associate wildfires with the Western United States, the start of spring weather and the potential for dry conditions increases the risk for wildfires in New York,” Commissioner Seggos said.

“New York prohibits residential burning during the coming high-risk fire season to reduce wildfires and protect people, property, and natural resources. The ban has been extremely effective in reducing the number of wildfires, and we're encouraging New Yorkers to put safety first.”

Even though much of the state is currently blanketed in snow, warming temperatures can quickly cause wildfire conditions to arise.

DEC posts daily a fire danger rating map and forecast during fire season on its website and on the NY Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App available on DEC's website. Currently, wildfire conditions in the state are low risk.

Historically, open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in New York State. When temperatures are warmer and the past fall's debris, dead grass, and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily and be further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation.

New York first enacted strict restrictions on open burning in 2009 to help prevent wildfires and reduce air pollution. State regulations allow residential brush fires in towns with fewer than 20,000 residents during most of the year, but prohibit such burning in spring when most wildfires in New York occur.

Since the ban was established, the eight-year annual average number of spring fires decreased by 42.6 percent, from 2,649 in 2009, to 1,521 in 2018.

Campfires using charcoal or untreated wood are allowed, but people should never leave such fires unattended and must extinguish them. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round.

Wildfires can be deadly and destructive, and the national annual cost of their consequences can range anywhere from $71.1 to $347.8 billion, according to recent study by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Last year’s Camp Fire in northern California destroyed the city of Paradise and killed more than 80 people, making it the nation's deadliest wildfire in more than a century.

This year, the USDA Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters, and the Ad Council are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the launch of the Smokey Bear Wildfire Prevention campaign, the longest-running public service advertising campaign in U.S. history.

“Smokey Bear has educated generations of Americans about their role in preventing wildfires,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Smokey’s words are still an urgent and relevant reminder for all of us to follow—‘Remember, only YOU can prevent forest fires.' ”

Some towns, primarily in and around the Adirondack and Catskill parks, are designated "fire towns." Open burning is prohibited year-round in these municipalities unless an individual or group has a written permit from DEC.

To find out whether a municipality is designated a "fire town" or to obtain a permit, contact the appropriate DEC regional office. A list of regional offices is available on DEC's website.

Violators of the state's open burning regulation are subject to both criminal and civil enforcement actions, with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense. To report environmental law violations call 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332), or report online on DEC's website.

Four-foot alligator found in vacant building on Lehigh Avenue

By Howard B. Owens


A four-foot long alligator was found in a vacant building at 11 Lehigh Ave., on Monday, and picked up by Encon Officer Wilson.

The alligator was initially discovered by Batavia PD but spokesman Investigator Eric Hill said the report didn't indicate how an officer found out about the alligator.

A DEC spokeswoman said the Seneca Park Zoo agreed to house the animal temporarily until it can be relocated to a permitted facility.

The case is still under investigation and she said it's illegal in New York to possess any crocodilian family without permits.

The building's listed owner is RCT Corp. The Batavian emailed a person who might be associated with that company to see if we can get more information.

Photo by Linda Cotter​.

DEC says toxic soil on city property next to Superfund site has been removed and replaced

By Howard B. Owens


The Department of Environmental Conservation has completed clean up of environmental contamination on city property next door to the former Batavia Iron and Metal Co. property at 301 Bank St.

The former metal recycling plant is a state Superfund site and has been a target of environmental remediation for toxic waste since 2013.

The property in question is land along the northern end of the Dwyer Stadium parking lot.

Clean up of the entire site is almost complete.

From August 2017 to June 2018, crews removed soil along the property line and at the rear of the property.

"The primary goal of the cleanup effort was to ensure effective removal and property disposal of contaminated soil and debris on City property and to restore the property with clean soil," the DEC stated in a report on the project.

The contractor was Nature's Way Environmental, from Alden.

During remediation, 17,000 tons of soil and debris was removed. 

The city property received clean soil and grass seed.

The DEC estimates the remaining surface clean up of the Iron and Metal property will be completed by late 2018.

The site was operated as a metal recycling facility from 1951 to 1999. Two furnaces operated on the property from the early 1970s until 1994. The furnaces reclaimed wire and smelted white metals. Before the furnaces were installed, the company used open-burn dumpsters to remove insulation from wiring.

From these activities, contaminants leached onto city property and three neighboring residential properties.

Cleanup of the residential properties was completed in 2014.



Law enforcement responding to report of person poaching turtle eggs in Alexander

By Billie Owens

Law enforcement responded to Cookson Road in Alexander and the vicinity to look for a green or light blue van whose driver was reportedly poaching turtle eggs. They are with the vehicle now.

The call to dispatch came from Department of Environmental Conservation "Officer Wilson," whose office received a recorded phone message tip about the alleged poaching. He has a 30-minute ETA to the scene.

The van's data comes back to an address on Buffalo Street in Attica and the female license holder "has a history of violations."

UPDATE 10:30 a.m.: "We are out with her and she has a bucket of eggs," says an officer. "She is the registered owner of the vehicle."

Some kind of injured hawk is reportedly perched on a fence at the Ontario Service Center

By Billie Owens

Some sort of injured hawk is reportedly perched on the fence at 8700 Vallance Road, Le Roy, at the Ontario Service Center. A Trooper is on scene and will handle, pending the response, in approximately an hour or so, of a representative from the State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Initially, the injured fowl was thought to be an eaglet or turkey vulture.

UPDATE 9:38 p.m.: A trooper says he's unable to locate the bird, which was reported from a passerby on the Thruway. 

DEC expands Emerald Ash Borer restricted areas

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) today announced that eight existing Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Restricted Zones have been expanded and merged into a single Restricted Zone in order to strengthen the State’s efforts to slow the spread of this invasive pest. 

The new EAB Restricted Zone includes part or all of Albany, Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Cayuga, Chautauqua, Chenango, Chemung, Columbia, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Erie, Genesee, Greene, Livingston, Madison, Monroe, Niagara, Oneida, Onondaga, Ontario, Orange, Orleans, Oswego, Otsego, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Sullivan, Tioga, Tompkins, Ulster, Wayne, Westchester, Wyoming, and Yates counties.

The EAB Restricted Zone prohibits the movement of EAB and potentially infested ash wood. The map is available on the DEC website

“The expanded Restricted Zone for the destructive pest Emerald Ash Borer will help to slow the spread of this tree-killing beetle, protecting millions of ash trees in New York,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC will continue our efforts to slow the spread of this beetle and do what we can to help communities prepare for EAB.”

“It’s critical that we continue to track the Emerald Ash Borer and adjust our efforts to combat and slow the spread of this invasive beetle that damages and kills ash trees in both our forested and urban settings,” said State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball. “By expanding the Restricted Zone, we can ensure that EAB and potentially infested ash wood does not leave the quarantine areas.”

Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) or “EAB” is a serious invasive tree pest in the United States, killing hundreds of millions of ash trees in forests, yards, and neighborhoods. The beetles’ larvae feed in the cambium layer just below the bark, preventing the transport of water and nutrients into the crown and killing the tree. Emerging adult beetles leave distinctive D-shaped exit holes in the outer bark of the branches and the trunk. Adults are roughly 3/8 to 5/8 inch long with metallic green wing covers and a coppery red or purple abdomen. They may be present from late May through early September but are most common in June and July. Other signs of infestation include tree canopy dieback, yellowing, and browning of leaves. 

EAB was first discovered in the United States in 2002 in southeastern Michigan. It was also found in Windsor, Ontario, Canada the same year. This Asian beetle infests and kills North American ash species (Fraxinus sp.) including green, white, black and blue ash. Thus, all native ash trees are susceptible.

EAB larvae can be moved long distances in firewood, logs, branches, and nursery stock, later emerging to infest new areas. These regulated articles may not leave the Restricted Zone without a compliance agreement or limited permit from the Department of Agriculture and Markets, applicable only during the non-flight season (September 1 - April 30).

Regulated articles from outside of the Restricted Zone may travel through the Restricted Zone as long as the origin and the destination are listed on the waybill and the articles are moved without stopping, except for traffic conditions and refueling. Wood chips may not leave the Restricted Zone between April 15th and May 15th of each year when EAB is likely to emerge.

For more information about EAB or the emergency orders, please visit DEC’s website. If you see signs of EAB attack on ash trees outside of the Restrictive Zone, please report these occurrences to the DEC’s Forest Health Information Line toll-free at 1-866-640-0652.

DEC announces special permits for duck hunting at local reserves

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that special permits will be issued for the opening weekend of duck season to hunt waterfowl at two popular state-managed locations. The permit requirement applies to waterfowl hunting at the Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management areas located primarily in Genesee and Niagara counties (with small portions in Orleans and Erie counties). The intent of the special permits is to promote hunter safety and increase the quality of hunting on days when the areas receive the greatest use.

A special permit is required to hunt waterfowl at Oak Orchard and Tonawanda Wildlife Management areas on the duck season’s first Saturday and first Sunday. These days are the only times the special permits are needed. Waterfowl may be hunted without a special permit during the rest of the season. The permit system has been used successfully at both wildlife management areas in recent years. No special permits are required to hunt other game species at Oak Orchard or Tonawanda Wildlife Management areas.

DEC has announced tentative 2015-2016 duck hunting season dates. Western New York’s tentative opening day/weekend dates for duck hunting are Oct. 24 and 25. This year goose season will be open during the opening weekend of duck season, and goose hunters are also required to obtain the special permit. These dates will not be finalized until the federal regulations are adopted in late summer. Hunters are advised to confirm the final dates before hunting any waterfowl.

Opening weekend waterfowl hunting permits for the two wildlife management areas will be distributed by a random lottery. For each of the two days, DEC will issue 100 permits for Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area and 50 permits for Oak Orchard Wildlife Management Area. Hunters must choose from four options: Oak Orchard first Saturday; Oak Orchard first Sunday; Tonawanda first Saturday; and Tonawanda first Sunday.

To apply for the lottery, hunters must send in a postcard with their name, address and their first three choices, in order of preference, clearly indicated. Applicants must also have completed a Waterfowl Identification Course, and their course certificate number must be indicated on the postcard.

Applications will be accepted through Sept. 15 and must be mailed to the New York State Bureau of Wildlife, 1101 Casey Road, Box B, Basom, NY 14013. Each permittee will be allowed to bring one companion over the age of 18 and an additional companion 18 years old or younger.

Duplicate permits will not be issued to hunters who have already been issued a permit to hunt on the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. Any cards submitted by hunters who have been selected to hunt on Iroquois on the first Saturday will be excluded from the lottery for that day at both Oak Orchard and Tonawanda.

Issued permits are nontransferable and are not valid for companion(s) unless the permittee is present and hunting within 50 yards. The permittee is responsible for completing and returning the questionnaire portion of the permit to the New York State Bureau of Wildlife by Nov. 15. If the completed questionnaire is not received by Nov. 15, the permittee will be ineligible for next year's (2016) lottery.

NYSDEC is also currently planning the annual Waterfowl Information meeting, which is held at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters on Casey Road in Alabama, Genesee County. This year the meeting will take place on the evening of Sept. 2 from 7 – 9 p.m. Wildlife biologists from Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and NYSDEC will discuss items of interest to waterfowl hunters in an informational and interactive forum.

Topics to be covered include:

--    Highlights of waterfowl management and research programs at Iroquois NWR, Tonawanda, Oak Orchard and Braddock Bay Wildlife Management areas, including drawdown schedules and hunt program news;

-    Regional and statewide waterfowl news and updates, including waterfowl banding results;

-    Atlantic Flyway news, including Avian Influenza update, and waterfowl population status surveys; and,

-    Tentative NY 2015-16 duck and goose hunting seasons.


From the NYS Thruway, take Exit 48A (Pembroke) and travel north on Route 77 to Alabama Center. Continue north on Route 63 for approximately 1 mile, turn left on Casey Road. The office is about a mile down the road on the right.

Deer abound in Batavia, but solutions hard to find

By Howard B. Owens

Deer are causing damage in Batavia and residents say the problem is as bad as they can ever remember it, but that doesn't mean a solution will be easy to find.

DEC Biologist Art Kirsch led a two-hour meeting on the issue Wednesday night, but offered no clear answers and said it could take years for Batavia to thin its deer herd to a less destructive level.

City Manager Jason Molino agreed.

"We've got the right folks at the state level to help us," Molino said. "We've just got to get the right folks in the community to participate and try to come up with a solution. Unfortunately, the solution isn't a cookie-cutter solution and I don't think the time frame is either. I don't think what anyone can predict what type of obstacles we might receive in the process."

Several residents told of the problems they face, including Gus Galliford.

"We're concerned about the deer just ravaging our property," Galliford said. "They're coming in numbers we've never seen before. I built my house 25 years ago and lived in the neighborhood all that time, but after this past spring, they're just destroying the whole thing."

The deer have cost his family thousands and thousands of dollars, Galliford said.

Kirsch said an overpopulation of deer are a problem on at least three levels: ecological damage, car accidents and transmission of disease.

His best suggestions for now: fencing, repellents, and fertility control.

Molino suggested the city may need to set up a committee to study the issue and recommend a solution.

Reporting for story provided by The Batavian's news partner, WBTA AM/FM.

Turtle rescuer in trouble with DEC

By Howard B. Owens

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.

DEC trying to trap pair of eagles in Alexander so movements can be tracked and studied

By Howard B. Owens


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.

State Police, DEC stress hunter safety as new season opens

By Howard B. Owens

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.

DEC looking for information on deer that have died from unknown causes

By Howard B. Owens

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.

DEC limits impact of new regs on existing outdoor wood boilers

By Billie Owens

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.

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