The lower lake of the Carmans River
Photo credit: Long Island Adventures
The Carmans River, located in Brookhaven, NY, is one of four major rivers on Long Island. It used to be a 10 mile river, beginning north of the Long Island Expressway and flowing all the way to the Great South Bay. Centuries ago, dams were installed that created a series of lakes. The lakes have since provided energy, recreation, and a source of income for citizens in the area.
Over the last decade, the Carmans River has been seriously threatened by two invasive plant species, Variable Leaf Milfoil and Cabomba. These are highly invasive species that have been increasing in population steadily since their introduction to the lakes a few years ago. The Variable Leaf Milfoil is the major problem in the lower lake, and the Cabomba is the major problem in the upper lake. These invasive species have become so concentrated that they have choked out native plants and marine life, inhibiting life in the river.
The Carmans River Task Force
In December of 2007, a Carmans River Task Force was created to address the serious invasive plant problem. CCE teamed up with Yaphank residents, elected officials, and other organizations to address the problems in these lakes. CCE’s Executive Director, Adrienne Esposito, oversees the seventeen diverse members that make up the working group.
Committee members include environmental organizations, civic associations, elected officials, and members of the community. Members include NYS Senator Kenneth LaValle, NYS Assemblyman Marc Alessi, NYS Assemblyman Dean Murray, Brookhaven Councilwoman Connie Kepert, Suffolk County, Legislator Kate Browning, South Yaphank Civic, Trout Unlimited, Open Space Council , Yaphank Taxpayers and Civic Association, and The Nature Conservancy. Also on the committee are representatives from the Town of Brookhaven, the Suffolk County Department of Environment and Energy, New York State Dept of Environmental Conservation, and the Suffolk County Department of Health.
The main goal of the Task Force was to review and evaluate all options of management and eradication of the invasive species of the upper and lower lakes. The Task Force then worked with consultant Nelson, Pope & Voorhis to agree on a plan for addressing these invasive species, in a way that would cause the least possible harm to the native plants and marine life in the lakes.
In early spring of 2009, a harvester was purchased by the Town and was used on the lower lake as a temporary solution to the problem with the goal of clearing the lake of excessive plant life, enabling boating within the lake. The harvester removed 83 tons of plant material in the spring and summer of 2009.
In 2009, Suffolk County appointed Nelson, Pope & Voorhis (NPV) as the consultant for the project. The Working Group also became the Steering Committee for NPV and crafted a comprehensive Scoping Document to ensure stakeholder input into this important study. As per their contract, the consultant met several times with the Working Group. On September 14, 2010, NPV presented their recommendations to the Working Group and to the public at a presentation in Brookhaven Town Hall.
On October 4, 2010, the Carmans River Protection Working Group convened to review the consultant’s findings and recommendations. The Working Group then crafted and voted on recommendations which were presented them to the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County. The working group member votes for these recommendations were: 17 in favor, 1 opposed, and 2 abstentions.
The consultant released its final findings and recommendations in April, 2011. They were consistent with the recommendations made by the working group. The group is now working to advance plans to begin dredging the lakes, beginning with Upper Lake.
View the Request for Proposal, which became public on October 2, 2008.
More details about the Task Force and the Coalition to Save the Yaphank Lakes
Follow the working group meetings:
Meeting January 26, 2008: minutes unavailable
Updated by tbono 11/6/12