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Dec 20, 2016 11:56 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

County Vector Control Says It Will Allow East Hampton Town To Designate A No-Spray Zone

Dec 20, 2016 2:02 PM

In a step toward a possible detente after years of head-butting over the use of chemicals in local marshes to kill mosquitoes, the East Hampton Town Trustees and Suffolk County’s Division of Vector Control have agreed to declare an area of East Hampton’s waterfront off-limits to spraying.

After a December 8 meeting between the Trustees and Vector Control officials, arranged by Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming, the county agreed to let the local overseers of waterways designate a no-spray area over a portion of town wetlands.

“They said they are trying to work toward more of a wetland management program, which would be great if they do follow through on that. But for now they are going to keep spraying,” Trustee Clerk Francis Bock said this week of the county’s evolving approach to mosquito control. “They flat out refused to stop spraying—but they said we could create this test area and they would track the differences.”

Mr. Bock said he would like to see the pilot be at least a three-year program, starting in 2018.

On Monday evening of this week the Trustees began discussing possible locations and terms for the no-spraying test-run. The board seemed settled that either Accabonac Harbor or a portion of Napeague Harbor would be the best choice.

The East Hampton Town Trustees have objected for years to the use of methoprene, a chemical that stunts the development of larval mosquitoes, preventing them from breeding. It is the main weapon in Vector Control’s effort to keep mosquito populations in check, but environmentalists, local officials and fishermen have blamed it for die-offs and maladies among various local marine species like crabs, lobsters and shrimp that are not-too-distant cousins, genetically, to mosquitoes.

The county has faced a battery of attacks from environmental groups for its use of methoprene on salt marshes around local bays. Kevin McAllister, the former Peconic Baykeeper and director of Defend H20, has filed two lawsuits and repeatedly challenged Vector Control’s management plans, accusing the agency and the county legislature of ignoring state environmental regulations in their fervor to control mosquito populations amid public health concerns over West Nile virus.

Connecticut earlier this year adopted a ban on the use of methoprene in coastal areas or any Long Island Sound watershed unless there is a confirmed fatal case of West Nile in a large population center.

Both the Southampton and East Hampton town trustees began asking the county to halt spraying over their respectively owned marshlands more than a decade ago, and each board has sent letters reiterating its objections annually.

Mr. McAllister said this week he suspects the county’s promises of a no-spray zone will never materialize.

“My feeling is that they met with the Trustees to get them to ultimately stand down on this,” he said. “It looks to have just been a meaningless gesture. I guarantee they will have to show up again and push this again and again, because [Vector Control] will continue to do business as they see fit.”

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we have been assaulted with toxic chemicals by VECTOR CONTROL for decades! Time to go legal on them.
By bigfresh (3852), north sea on Dec 20, 16 3:53 PM