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For Release: Wednesday, April 26, 2017

DEC Environmental Conservation Officer Highlights

ECO Actions for Early to Mid-April

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 2016, the 286 ECOs across the state responded to 26,400 calls and issued 22,150 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:

Sewer Sludge Flooding - Ulster County

On April 5, ECO Jeannette Bastedo responded to a complaint that a business in the town of Ulster was failing to contain waste byproducts resulting from the manufacture of masonry blocks. The material is a sludge-like water containing suspended solids. When ECO Bastedo investigated the incident, she determined the sludge had fouled the sewer system and caused flooding in the public road and parking lot of adjacent businesses. The company was issued tickets for depositing a noisome substance onto the highway and for disposing a noxious substance and/or refuse into a sewer returnable on April 25 in the Town of Ulster Court.

Sewage sludge running into sewer.
Commercial sludge running into the roadway and sewer
Sewer sludge running onto road.

No Snow, No Problem - Fulton County

On the evening of April 6, workers at the Universal Warehouse in Gloversville looked out of their windows to see a snowmobile being operated on the grass in a field on their property. Workers watched as a subject attempted to "skip" the snowmobile across an unfrozen pond. The operator failed to make it across, and the snowmobile began to sink into the water. The workers yelled to the operator as he emerged from the pond, but he climbed into a waiting pick-up truck and sped off. The New York State Police responded along with Lt. Matthew Clemens and ECO Jason Hilliard. After the snowmobile was removed from the pond by a towing service, the ECOs discovered the snowmobile was not registered and no record of it existed in New York. The two officers began to spread the word locally that the subject needed to come forward to claim his snowmobile. On April 11, a Johnstown resident contacted the State Police and agreed to meet with ECO Shane Manns to claim the snowmobile. He admitted that he was the operator of the snowmobile and was issued eight tickets for various snowmobile, water quality, and trespassing charges, all of which are returnable to the Town of Johnstown Court on April 19.

Sunken snowmobile being pulled from the pond.
Sunken snowmobile being pulled from the pond.

Busy with Pesticides - Suffolk County

On April 10, ECO Katie Jakaub worked a pesticides enforcement detail in East Hampton with program staff member Sarah Whelen from DEC's Region 1 Division of Pesticides. ECO Jakaub and Whelen got as far as the first street on their route when they found the first of many alleged violations-an unmarked landscaping truck from which pesticides had been unloaded. The work crew was scheduled to apply the pesticides. However, the business was unregistered for pesticide application, lacked the appropriate decals on equipment, and was not a licensed applicator. The business was ordered to remove the pesticides and cease applying until they obtained the appropriate paperwork. The duo spotted another unmarked landscaping truck in the area and found unmarked service containers holding pesticides. Further investigation uncovered that the business had no written contract with the property owner and also failed to keep accurate records. This business was directed to remove the pesticides and cease applying until establishing written contracts and appropriate record keeping. A total of seven tickets and two warnings were issued for the violations.

Pesticides being stored and applied illegally.
Pesticides being stored and applied illegally.

Midnight Stripers - Queens County

On April 10 at around 11 p.m., ECO Lucas Palmateer was contacted by a complainant who had witnessed two males catching and keeping striped bass at Little Neck Bay, although the season for striped bass was not yet open. The complainant said that the fishermen were hiding fish in a car approximately 500 yards from their fishing spot. ECOs Palmateer and Zach Brown responded and watched the suspects fishing. One of the fishermen caught a striped bass, placed it in a black garbage bag, and began to walk to his car. The ECOs approached the man and spotted another striped bass in a bag in the trunk. The ECOs seized both fish and returned the live fish to the water. The ECOs issued the subject summonses for possession of striped bass out of season and failure to release caught fish during the closed season without harm. While leaving the scene, the ECOs noticed three more males fishing at a popular fishing spot in Fort Totten Park. These fishermen were in possession of four additional striped bass. The subjects had also cut the heads off two of the fish, which is illegal in New York as it makes it impossible to determine the true length of the fish. ECOs Palmateer and Brown seized the fish as evidence and issued the three subjects summonses for possession of striped bass out of season. One of the subjects was also issued a summons for possession of mutilated striped bass carcasses. All tickets are returnable to Queens County Court on June 6.

Five Out-of-Season Striped Bass seized by ECOs Palmateer and Brown.
Five Out-of-Season Striped Bass seized by ECOs Palmateer and Brown.

Big Spill, Big Clean Up - Orange County

On April 11, ECO Jeannette Bastedo was dispatched to a large spill of home heating fuel oil on the off-ramp of Route 9W at Route 293 in the town of Highlands. A truck carrying 2,650 gallons of fuel oil traveling south on Route 9W failed to negotiate a turn on the off-ramp and overturned, ripping the bulkhead of the truck. The fuel oil quickly spilled into the surrounding area, including Highland Brook, which is the water supply for the village of Highland Falls and a tributary to the Hudson River. Numerous agencies responded to clean up the spill of approximately 1,573 gallons of fuel oil. Region 3 Director Kelly Turturro, along with DEC Spills staff David Traver and Daniel Bendell, worked at the site. Additional ECOs responded to assist, including Lt. David Clayton, ECO Max Nicols, and ECO Andrew Kostuk. The driver of the truck was issued tickets for depositing a noisome and unwholesome substance onto the highway and for depositing an offensive and noxious substance into a stream, with a return date of May 3 in the Town of Highlands Court. An additional traffic ticket was issued by New York State Police and the truck was impounded by State Police for further inspection.

Overturned fuel oil truck in the Town of Highlands.
Overturned fuel oil truck in the Town of Highlands.

Fish Stocking Detail - Monroe County

On April 14, DEC Bureau of Fisheries conducted its annual stocking of Brown Trout in Irondequoit Creek at various locations in Monroe County. ECOs assisted with traffic control, stocking, and monitoring of fishing activity on the creek. This initial stocking activity provides anglers the opportunity to easily catch their limit for the day in a short period of time. To ensure compliance with fishing regulations, Lt. Bruce Hummel, along with ECOs Paul Blanton, George Scheer, Brian Shea, and Kevin Thomas, conducted patrols along the creek when the stocking was complete. The conditions were ideal and numerous anglers enjoyed a near perfect day of fishing. Although few violations were encountered, two fishermen were issued tickets for fishing without licenses.

DEC stocking truck at Irondequoit Creek.
DEC stocking truck at Irondequoit Creek.

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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