B'haven Approves Carmans Task Force
By:Barbara LaMonica

In an effort to stem the rising tide of the invasive cabomba weed plaguing the Carmans River and address whether existing dams should remain intact, the Brookhaven Town Board unanimously authorized the formation of an advisory task force.
While some oppose removal of the dams, claiming that it would cause existing lakes to recede, others believe the dams should be removed in order to allow the cold water river to flow more rapidly and allow a habitat for brook trout to continue to spawn and survive. Yaphank resident Johan McConnell had asked the town board last month to consider the formation of the task force to address these issues. McConnell and local resident Robert Kessler both maintain the position that the dams should remain intact. Those opposing maintenance of the dams include Peconic Baykeeper Kevin McAllister and Dave Thompson, regional vice president of the New York State Council of Trout Unlimited.
McConnell and Kessler assert that installing fish ladders would provide an alternative to dismantling the dams, and would create an opening for the trout to swim upstream to spawn. Thompson said that while fish ladders are an option, he is not certain it is the best choice. "We should look at all possible solutions," said Thompson, who added, "If you remove the dams, then you create cold flowing habitat."
Following the town board's vote to authorize the formation of the task force, Fourth District Councilwoman Connie Kepert told Suffolk Life that she is sensitive to residents' concerns about the dams. "The people of Yaphank are adamantly opposed to removing the dams, because the lakes are an environmental benefit, and there are other alternatives for the trout," she stated.
New York State Assemblyman Marc Alessi (D-Wading River) will serve on the town-appointed task force. Alessi, who says he has been listening to residents' concerns about the river, noted that he is "adamantly opposed" to removing the dams. "The folks in the Yaphank community want to preserve the lakes and eradicate the invasive species," he said. "Then you have the sportsmen who like the assurance that the fish can swim upstream [to spawn]." A good compromise might be to provide fish ladders by the dams to enable the fish to swim upstream, he said. This also would allow preservation of the lakes.
"These lakes have been in existence for years and the community grew up around these lakes," Alessi said. "So I am adamantly opposed to removing the dams, especially since we have the solution of fish ladders, which will allow the fish to migrate."
As for the aquatic invasive species, Alessi and Kepert agree there are a number of alternatives, including the use of sonar herbicide, a proposed initiative that Thompson asserts is "moving in the wrong direction."
Meanwhile, Alessi maintains that there are alternatives. "We can do dredging, or use sonar that only affects this particular invasive species and leaves other native plants unharmed. This is a pilot that was successfully used in the Peconic River."
Kepert said a schedule of task force meetings, which will be open to the public, will be established once the entire committee has been formed. She expects that the first meeting will be held in January.

ęSuffolk Life Newspapers 2007