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For Release: Wednesday, August 31, 2016

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Mid-August

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) enforce the 71 Chapters of NY Environmental Conservation Law, protecting fish and wildlife and preserving environmental quality across New York.
In 2015, the 268 ECOs across the state responded to 25,000 calls and issued 22,000 tickets for crimes ranging from deer poaching to corporate toxic dumping and illegal mining, black market pet trade, and excessive emissions violations.

"From Montauk Point to Mount Marcy, from Brooklyn to Buffalo, the ECOs patrolling our state are the first line of defense in protecting New York's environment and our natural resources, ensuring that they exist for future generations of New Yorkers," said Commissioner Basil Seggos. "They work long and arduous hours, both deep in our remote wildernesses and in the tight confines of our urban landscapes. Although they don't receive much public fanfare, the work of our ECOs is critical to achieving DEC's mission to protect and enhance our environment."

Recent missions carried out by ECOs include:

Empire Farm Days - Seneca County

From August 9 - 11, ECOs Paul Blanton, Josh Crain, Keith Levanway, Todd Smith, John Stansfield and Lt. Matthew Lochner manned an outreach and recruiting booth at the annual Empire Farms Days event in Seneca County. Launched in 1931 to introduce farmers to the newest equipment, information and techniques in the farming industry, the event was held at the Rodman Lott and Son Farms on State Route 414 in the town of Seneca Falls. Empire Farm Days is the largest outdoor agricultural trade show in the Northeastern U.S. This year, more than 60,000 people attended to see the latest tractors, farm implements, and dairy industry innovations alongside working demonstrations, live animal seminars, and more than 600 exhibits loaded with the most current agricultural information for successful, productive and environmentally responsible farming.

ECO Josh Crain at Empire Farm Days.
ECO Josh Crain at Empire Farm Days.

Platte Clove Joint Enforcement - Ulster County

On August 13 and 14, ECOs Bob Hodor and Myles Schillinger assisted the town of Saugerties Police Department with a growing number of trespassers from as far away as Canada. There has been a marked increase in people coming to swim and enjoy the pristine, remote Plattekill Creek as it cascades from the Catskill Mountains through the Platte Clove. The Plattekill Creek also supplies drinking water to Saugerties residents. The only legal access to the swimming hole is through State land; however, people are illegally entering the area through posted private and town lands. The large volume of people has created a litter problem and damaged property, degrading trails that are prone to erosion. To date in 2016, a total of 24 tickets for trespassing, two parking tickets, and two written warnings have been issued related to Platte Clove access issues.

ECOs Lend Aid to Injured swimmer - Queens County

On August 13, ECOs Kevin Cummings and John Gates were conducting marine fishing compliance patrols on Riis Beach when they were flagged down by a woman who had been injured while swimming. The swimmer had been washed onto rocks by heavy waves and suffered cuts and other injuries. The swimmer's friend also received cuts while helping her get off the rocks. ECOs Cummings and Gates escorted both parties from the beach and provided aid until FDNY and EMS responded. The swimmer was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Filling Wetland Leads to Multiple Charges - Saratoga County

On August 17, ECO Steve Shaw received an anonymous tip of an individual in the town of Northumberland dumping large amounts of solid waste behind his residence. The complainant was concerned the property owner might be burying garbage, as well. On August 18, ECO Shaw and DEC staff visited the site and confirmed that multiple loads of fill had been dumped within a delineated wetland. The "clean fill" was also not clean due to the presence of household garbage and rubbish. The property owner was charged with placing fill in a wetland without a permit and operating a solid waste management facility without a permit. The property owner was provided a remediation schedule and instructions to contact DEC at a future date to discuss a disposition.

Solid waste dumped illegally in a wetland.
Solid waste dumped illegally in a wetland.

Truck Fire - Bronx County

On August 19, ECOs Kimberly Garnsey and Jeannette Bastedo were patrolling Hunts Point when they observed smoke pouring out from beneath a parked truck. Upon closer inspection, the ECOs realized a light on the big rig was catching fire. The ECOs found the operator in the area and directed him to turn off his truck, eliminating the current that was causing the light to burn. The driver had not realized the odor of burnt wires was actually coming from his own truck.

ECO Bastedo and the truck driver determining the source of smoke coming from his truck.
ECO Bastedo and the truck driver determining the source of smoke
coming from his truck.

Truckload of Poachers - Orange County

On August 18 at approximately 11:30 p.m., ECO Chris Lattimer received a call from a New York State Trooper advising that he had stopped a pick-up truck in the town of Mount Hope and believed the truck's occupants had been poaching deer. Officer Lattimer responded, meeting with the Trooper who questioned the truck's four occupants and confirmed they had shot at a deer close to where he had stopped them. Apparently, they missed the deer. Each of the poachers individually confirmed this account and gave written statements. One admitted to shooting at an 8-point buck. A search of the area confirmed the shooter had missed the deer, and the bolt action .308 rifle used was seized as evidence. All four of the poachers were given appearance tickets for using a light with an unsecured gun in the truck. The subject who shot at the deer was also given appearance tickets for hunting deer with artificial light, possession of a loaded gun in a motor vehicle, hunting deer during the closed season, and illegally harassing/pursuing deer. All of the charges will be heard in the town of Mount Hope Court.

If you witness an environmental crime or believe a violation of environmental law occurred please call the DEC Division of Law Enforcement hotline at 1-844-DEC-ECOS (1-844-332-3267).

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