[CT Birds] Resolution of the East River Boat Launch Access Issues

Kathy Van Der Aue kathyvda at gmail.com
Sat Feb 13 08:22:26 EST 2016

Keith Mueller and I met Thursday afternoon with Mike Payton of the Boating
Division, Jenny Dickson and Ann Kilpatrick of the Wildlife Division and Officer
John Torres of the Environmental Conservation Police to discuss the East
River Boat Launch site access issues.  We all agreed that the parking lot
sign limiting parking to boat trailers etc. was misleading and they have
agreed to remove the sign and replace it with signs designating certain
parking spaces for boat trailers.  The remaining spaces will be for public
parking on a first come, first served basis. They also plan to put in
concrete parking bumpers to try and organize the parking in the lot as
spaces are undesignated right now.  The confusing signage will also be
changed in other lots, such as the Great Island lot, over time.

We additionally discussed the possibility of having a few spaces along the
wider part of the access road designated for standing only (so a person
could sit in the car with binoculars and survey the Saltmarsh Sparrows).
Upon measuring the road and finding that this would be possible as the road
was 28 feet wide, it was agreed that this could also be done.  There will
be absolutely no parking on the other side of the access road.  Given a
choice of which side of the road to designate for standing spaces, we chose
the side which allowed the driver's side to have the best viewing (the
right side as you go in toward the lot).  These spots will be on the
portion of the road which is a little more elevated to reduce the
possibility of flooding. The area will be clearly marked with signs that
indicate only standing “parking” for wildlife viewing will be allowed and
it must be between the signs. Having a designated section will help address
concerns about emergency access and prevent the creation of pinch points at
sections where the access road narrows.

 They ask for our patience as they need several layers of approvals in this
tight budget year for ordering the signs and concrete parking bumpers, but
expect it can be accomplished this spring.  As of now it is my
understanding that the lot can be used for parking without fear of drawing
attention from the EnCon police.   As to "Standing" along the access road,
it is still marked "No Parking" on both sides.  Until the signs are changed
the situation is in flux and I ask you to respect the signs.  I suspect
Officers would use their discretion if there was some exciting rarity that
drew birders to the spot before the signs are changed, but they would not
be legally required to do so.

 Please let me know of any further concerns that you may have about this
issue.  I am personally very grateful that our concerns were met with such
respect by Mike Payton and am very happy with the result.  Jenny Dickson
and Ann Kilpatrick were understandably concerned that the marsh not be
infringed upon as it is valuable habitat for high conservation priority
species such as the Saltmarsh Sparrow.  Officer John Torres was concerned
with access for emergency vehicles if there are cars standing alongside the
access road but he agreed that the width of the road was sufficient for
emergency access.  I believe these concerns are valid and ask all of you to
be most careful when using these areas to be sure not to block emergency
access or infringe upon the marsh.

Thanks to Keith for bringing this matter to COA's attention.

Kathy Van Der Aue
​, President, COA​

Southport, Connecticut
Visit my Blog at http://naturaliststable.wordpress.com

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