[CT Birds] Hammonasset: Response from Commissioner Esty

Craig Repasz crepasz at hotmail.com
Sun Jun 23 18:23:50 EDT 2013

The New Haven Bird Club also sent a letter to Commissioner Esty. We received the same response. 

Sent from my iPhone

On Jun 23, 2013, at 4:16 PM, "john at birdspix.com" <schwarzjs at aol.com> wrote:

> John,
> Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns about recent work in the 
> parking lot near Meigs Point at Hammonasset Beach State Park. I understand your 
> concern, and I want you to know the thought process that has gone into this 
> decision.
> As you may know, this area of the park is intensively used by the public during 
> the summer, as it is the primary parking area for the popular Meigs Point beach, 
> and for the Meigs Point Nature Center. Many people begin a life-long love of the 
> outdoors in this park, and it does wonders for public awareness of natural 
> resources issues. The parking lot itself is roughly 5% paved (in the most 
> frequently used section) with the remainder being grass parking spots and gravel 
> “roadways”.  Park visitors walking to the beach or returning to their cars in 
> this lot have been forced to walk down the narrow one-way road along with 
> passing cars.  This project has been designed to increase public access  (and 
> public safety) by creating a walkway for pedestrians to separate them from 
> passing cars.
> The material used to create this walkway and to fill small depressions in edge 
> of the parking lot is not impervious asphalt pavement, but rather it is recycled 
> road “millings”, which is pervious ground up asphalt chips.  The total area of 
> this new pervious walkway is roughly 3 % of the parking area, and we have no 
> plans to pave this area further.  I hope this information is helpful in 
> understanding the scope of the public safety project that was undertaken at 
> Hammonasset Beach State Park.
> We know many people enjoy the park for its vast array of wildlife, and for the 
> many other public amenities that it has provided for almost 100 years.  With 
> over 2 miles of public bathing beaches and one of the largest campgrounds in the 
> country, it is often a delicate balance to provide these services to the almost 
> 2 million annual visitors, while creating and maintaining habitat that is so 
> attractive to so many wildlife species.  I think we mostly get it right, but we 
> also want to make sure that we hear from folks when they think we’ve gotten it 
> wrong on occasion. If you have additional questions, or would like to discuss 
> these issues further, I would encourage you to contact Tom Tyler, our Director 
> of State Parks.  Tom can be reached at 860-424-3099 or tom.tyler at ct.gov .
> Sincerely,
> Dan
> ________________________________________
> From: john at birdspix.com [schwarzjs at aol.com]
> Sent: Saturday, June 22, 2013 10:30 AM
> To: Esty, Daniel
> Subject: 2nd notice: Hammonasset
> Dear Commissioner Esty:
>     As time truly is of the essence here, many of us are expectantly awaiting a 
> prioritized response to this. Many thanks in advance for your most urgent 
> attention.
> Sincerely,
> John S. Schwarz
> -----Original Message-----
> From: john at birdspix.com <schwarzjs at aol.com>
> To: daniel.esty <daniel.esty at ct.gov>
> Sent: Wed, Jun 19, 2013 1:04 pm
> Subject: Hammonasset
> Dear Commissioner Esty:
>     By now you have probably have already become aware of the consternation 
> over "improvements" being made at Hammonasset State Park in Madison. Please 
> allow me to offer my own personal very grave concerns:
>     My interest is as a bird photographer (www.birdspix.com<http://www.birdspix.com>) 
> who travels all over the country in this pursuit. I reside in Westbrook and, 
> like many other Connecticut nature devotees, spend more time at Hammonasset than 
> at any other single site in Connecticut. Many may not understand that 
> Hammonasset is far more than a beach and a campground, it is an ecologically 
> sensitive nature preserve and a crucial annual migratory stopover for many bird 
> species, as well as a summer or winter home for countless others including four 
> species of owls.
>     Of particular immediate concern is the filling in of rain pools and new 
> paving under consideration. Each year the rain pools and gravelly fields and 
> unpaved overflow parking areas provide necessary and irreplaceable habitat for 
> Black-bellied and American Golden Plovers, Least and White-rumped Sandpipers, 
> Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, Snow Buntings, Savannah and Vesper Sparrows, 
> and numerous other species. Human altering of what nature has purposely provided 
> for these species is an enormous, if unintentional, mistake.
>     I understand that it is likely that whoever made the unfortunate decision 
> to fill in the rain pools did so in a well-intentioned effort to improve on the 
> aesthetics of the park and was most likely unaware of the concomitant dire 
> adverse affects on the park's dependent avifauna.
>     It is not too late to undo the damage done so far by fully restoring the 
> rain pools to their prior natural condition and thus return them to the purpose 
> that nature intended all along.  I implore that this be done, with urgency, 
> before autumn migration begins, fully understanding that indeed this action may 
> require the reluctant swallowing of someone's personal pride, with the admission 
> that a simply wrong decision had unknowingly been made without all the relevant 
> considerations having been fully understood, but rest assured that in the end 
> such an admission will be met only with the sincerest appreciation and relief, 
> with no recriminations.
>     Any consideration of new paving anywhere in the park should be put on 
> immediate indefinite hold while the serious adverse consequences to nature 
> receive all the due time and attention they require to be fully aired, 
> publicized, discussed, and understood, lest any more damage be done, this time, 
> unthinkably, of the irreparable kind.
>     Like all of my Connecticut colleagues, I am ready to meet with you or any 
> others with authority in this matter, at any time and place convenient to you, 
> to help address this ongoing concern. The restoration of the rain pools really 
> can not wait, as the annual shorebird migration will already be getting underway 
> in July.
> Very sincerely,
> John S. Schwarz
> 66 Captains Drive
> Westbrook, CT 06498
> 860-399-2575
> www.birdspix.com<http://www.birdspix.com>
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