Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Status of the Calverton Grasslands...

Breeding Grasshopper Sparrow at Calverton Grasslands.
The recent find of the LeConte Sparrow at the Calverton Grasslands prompted me to look into the status of the area.  As many of my readers might remember, the area was considered for an indoor ski mountain that would undoubtedly have destroyed what is considered Long Island’s best remaining grassland habitat. The development was opposed by many, especially Long Island birders who were concerned about the environment and the welfare of wintering Short-eared Owls and breeding Grasshopper Sparrows.

It took some digging around, but I finally got some information from Jennifer Skillbred from the Group for the East End.  According to Jennifer, "the development projects proposed at EPCAL, both the somewhat smaller proposed industrial development and the massive resort and man-made lake project have been cancelled at this point. However, this does not mean that the battle to protect the Calverton Grasslands has ended. The Riverhead Town Supervisor and town board have decided to create a new reuse plan for the EPCAL site, which we feel is a great first step. It is also one that we are working to stay involved in. As this planning process begins to move forward, we will certainly be in communication with the hired consultants as well as the town board and the DEC, and will be reaching out to all who are concerned about the protection of this rare habitat. Hopefully with the help of all these people this re-development plan will clearly take into account the importance of this grassland habitat and the wildlife it supports, so any proposed development in the future will be more compatible with the natural resources present.  Also, the DEC recently released the regulations for managing state-endangered species which is an important step in enforcing protection of the Short-Eared Owls and others at EPCAL". 

So there you have it, proving that we must continue to monitor and stay in touch with all of the negotiations and proceedings involving the Calverton Grasslands.  Birders, Photographers and all nature lovers please visit the the EPCAL Coalition website to keep in touch with all of the developments and find out how you could assist. I would like to thank Harry Mass, of New York City Audubon for his encouragement during my quest to look into the status of the Calverton Grasslands and Jennifer Skillbred, from the Group for the East End who was very helpful in providing a status update.

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