Desecration Of Nature - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1982296

Desecration Of Nature

My grandparents bought land, around 1920, which is now the Anna and Daniel Mulvihill Preserve. They cherished and protected all of its species. My father, William Mulvihill, bought adjacent parcels, including Great Swamp, to guard its precious groundwater and diverse habitats. A man ahead of his time, he realized then that these treasures would soon be in grave danger.

Now we are faced with a local emergency. PSEG Long Island wants to clear land in Great Swamp to facilitate installation of an underground transmission cable right through critical ecosystems. Yet an alternative route exists for the underground cable, along roadways.

The very land protected by my family could now be violated by our own utility company and sold out by the Town of Southampton, which vowed to safeguard it for future generations.

Taxpayers bought the William Mulvihill Preserve with Community Preservation Fund revenues, and it belongs now to everyone’s family, for hiking, birding, finding peace and beauty, and teaching children to revere nature.

For decades, my elders shunned developers who tried to tempt them with large sums, who sought to divide this wilderness. They resisted, knowing you can’t put a price on owl habitat, on rare salamanders or orchids, on refuge for our vanishing box turtles. You can’t quantify clean drinking water in our aquifers on an island that hosts millions of people. You can’t appraise a kettle bog, teeming with species, or a forest rich with migrating birds, butterflies, native plants and mammals, especially as we all bear witness to a worldwide biodiversity crisis.

PSEG’s plan is short-sighted and dangerous. They acknowledge they would need to “remediate” vernal ponds and endangered Eastern tiger salamander habitat. Extinction cannot be remedied. You cannot replace a vernal pond once destroyed. A plethora of lifeforms lie hidden in its primal soil for most of the year. It cannot be moved or replicated. Vernal ponds are ancient gems of Great Swamp and the Long Pond Greenbelt, critical for ecological integrity.

My dad wrote about his land: “The vernal pond is a crucible where only the fittest amphibian, insect or microbe survives to endow their progeny with their traits. Vernal ponds are critical havens for migrating amphibians that travel over land seeking new homes. For that reason alone, they must be protected.”

Turtles need them in their search for egg-laying sites. Dragonflies that emerge from them nourish countless songbirds.

This threatened desecration of our nature preserves must be stopped now. “Horizontal directional drilling,” producing daily “liquid waste/slurry” can never be allowed in our wetlands.

Please contact the Southampton Town Board and Suffolk County to beseech them to not give these rights-of-way to PSEG. They hold the cards. We, the public, their constituents, must stand firm.

Mary Ann Mulvihill-Decker

Sag Harbor