Annual Meeting 2022

A brief recap of the Annual Meeting held on December 17th, 2022:

  • budget
    • The board-approved budget for 2023 was unanimously adopted. Thank you again to Ada for her hard work!
  • officers
    • The slate of officers was unanimously re-elected.
  • bylaws
    • The organization’s revised bylaws were unanimously approved. Thank you again to Marc and Ernie for your assistance, especially in coordinating efforts with the ProBono Partnership and the legal team from DLA Piper. The new bylaws:
      • Codify relationship with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
      • Clarify membership requirements
      • Clarify board responsibilities
      • Clarify indemnification & financial administration
      • Codify dissolution
  • president’s report
    • Organizational changes: we concluded an MoU with the NYS Central Pine Barrens Commission, our partner for the Barrens to Bay Summer Camp; our transition to Square: the transition is ongoing – equipment has been installed and accounts set up, next is training of the front desk volunteers; and we have some changes in board members – we are bidding farewell to Ernie Lewis after many years of service as well as to Anthony Graves, and welcoming back June Champion.
    • Advocacy: we wrote and submitted public comments to the Department of the Interior regarding the state of refuge law enforcement for the entire Long Island Refuge Complex.
    • Summer Camp: Our Barrens-to-the-Bay summer camp, run in conjunction with the Central Pine Barrens Commission, went back to its regular schedule for the summer of 2022 and campers had great fun conducting research and creating art.
  • refuge update
    • An update for the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex was given by Ann Marie Chapman, Visitor Services Manager from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Especially good to note is that Wertheim NWR will be receiving a good chunk of money in the next several years from the infrastructure bill.

2022 Annual Meeting

We will be voting to approve officers, adopt a budget, and to approve a modernized set of bylaws. Please take the time to read these documents before voting. Many thanks to treasurer Ada Graham for her work on the budget, and to board members Ernie Lewis and Marc Rauch for their work on the bylaws!

Proposed 2023 Budget

Draft Bylaws

Why FoW is concerned about climate change

Hat tip to board member Ernie Lewis for sharing this! The visualization presents monthly global temperature anomalies between the years 1880-2021. These temperatures are based on the GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP v4), an estimate of global surface temperature change. Anomalies are defined relative to a base period of 1951-1980.

For more on this data visualization, go to the NASA Scientific Visualization Studio.

Welcome to FOW’s new newsletter team

Please welcome our new newsletter team members, Tara Murphy and Phil Rosner!

Woman smiling in selfie with man sitting on front steps of house in background.
Tara Murphy

Tara Murphy is a native of Staten Island, NY but is no stranger to the beauty of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge. In 2015, she served as a Visitor Services Intern with the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and assisted both Refuge staff and the Friends of Wertheim in educational programming and hosting International Migratory Bird Day. Tara holds a B.A. in Ecosystems & Human Impact from Stony Brook University and recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Planning from American Public University. She has applied her passions for wildlife and education to a career with NYC Parks as an Urban Park Ranger and later, as a Wildlife Field Technician monitoring urban wildlife trends for policy development. Tara has returned to Brookhaven and resides with her husband and their leopard gecko, Lenni, in Center Moriches. She looks forward to kayaking, wildlife viewing, and connecting with you!

Man, woman, and child smiling at camera.
Phil Rosner and family

Phil Rosner is a proposal manager for engineering firms. He brings to the team a decade of experience in graphic design and copy editing. A local resident, he is passionate about photography, with a particular interest in photographing flowers and birds, and is an avid gardener. Phil can often be found hiking with his camera at Wertheim. He holds a degree in US Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior from Rutgers University.

Farewell Cabin

The small house that was Maurice Wertheim’s hunting cabin and the original headquarters building for the Long Island Refuge Complex has been demolished. The Refuge put together this FAQ to explain why, prior to the demolition:

• What is the current status of the Wertheim Hunt Cabin? 

Prior to the new Headquarters building opening in 2012, refuge staff used the Wertheim Hunt Cabin as  the base of operations for the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Following the opening of  the new building, the cabin has fallen into a state of disrepair and has become a frequent target of  vandalism. The Wertheim Hunt Cabin is currently scheduled for demolition on Monday, January 10th.  The refuge is already closed on this date for the shotgun hunt. 

• Why does the Wertheim Hunt Cabin need to be demolished? 

Because the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is primarily a wildlife and habitat management agency,  any new construction on Service property must be offset with the demolition of other structures. In  exchange for the new Headquarters building, refuge management offered up several structures for  demolition: the quarters building along the west side of the Carmans, the old maintenance building/shed  and the Wertheim Hunt Cabin. 

• Did refuge staff consider any alternatives to demolition of the Wertheim Hunt Cabin? 

Refuge management approached several conservation organizations in the vicinity of the refuge to  inquire whether or not they wanted to take possession of the Wertheim Hunt Cabin and remove it from  the property. Unfortunately, none of these organizations had the interest and/or means to remove the  cabin and secure its preservation. 

• Has the refuge performed any historical analysis of the Wertheim Hunt Cabin? 

Yes. In April of 2021, historic preservation consultant Paula Sagerman performed a comprehensive  analysis of the history of the Wertheim Hunt Cabin. Although still in draft form and not yet released to  the public, this analysis includes a construction chronology of the structure and a retrospective of  Maurice Wertheim’s life and accomplishments.  

• What are the future plans for the Wertheim Hunt Cabin site? 

In the spirit of the Wertheim legacy, refuge staff hope to repurpose the site into an outdoor educational  pavilion and overlook. Opportunities for refuge visitor infrastructure along the Carmans are very limited  due to the prevalence of indigenous artifacts; but since the Wertheim Hunt Cabin footprint is already  disturbed ground, refuge staff can more easily create opportunity. Any new construction will include an  interpretive display on the importance of the site and the Wertheim legacy. The pavilion and overlook will provide structure for the thousands of school children who visit the refuge annually. Maurice  Wertheim’s legacy and love for the outdoors will be imparted upon each and every child who enjoys the  new structure.

Arthur Cooley (1934-2022)

Art Cooley in 2017

We’re saddened by the news that Art Cooley has passed away.  Many remember Mr. Cooley from his time as a biology teacher at Bellport High School, where he founded the Students for Environmental Quality.  Under Mr. Cooley’s guidance, research by students on the Carmans River ecosystem was turned into a report for the DEC and was instrumental in getting Governor Malcolm Wilson to sign into law a bill that has protected Carmans River from development by putting it under the protection of the Wild, Scenic and Recreation Rivers Act.

Cooley also played a huge role in the environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s. He was one of several local activists who organized to stop use of the pesticide DDT, a toxin that was threatening survival of birds including the osprey, bald eagle and peregrine falcon. The legal battle led to the banning of DDT in the United States and the formation of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). This led to the nationwide use of science to challenge industry groups in court and helped establish the right of ordinary citizens to sue the government to protect human health and the environment, EDF said in a statement. (Another co-founder was his friend and neighbor, Dennis Puleston, who worked actively on conservation efforts on the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge.)

Finally, as an honorary board member of Friends of Wertheim, we will miss his enthusiasm and charismatic presence.

Annual Meeting

Friends of Wertheim’s annual meeting will be held via Zoom on November 20, 2021 at 4 p.m. An email link will be sent to all members. Our guest speaker will be the new Long Island Refuge Complex director, Annjanette Bagozzi.

Archival Post

Walk for the Wild

Walk for the Wild is an event to encourage the public to get back to nature. 

The USFWS is partnering with the Public Land Alliance and the Virtual Running Club to advertise this event. People can register online through the VRC website and either choose to pay a $30 registration fee that gets them a Walk for the Wild shirt or they can register for free with no shirt. We would want to recommend to register even if it’s for the no fee option so we can get a sense of how many people will be attending the event. The walk would be all week, whenever the public wanted to come walk. We will receive stickers for people who complete a trail or walk on our refuge. There are additional options for people to purchase as well as the shirt that comes with the registration.

All resources are accessible to the Friends groups if they would like to be involved but is not required to have them if they chose not to participate. There is a recorded webinar that addresses questions and concerns I can email out. There will also be several special event workshops to help with any confusion and to push along the event seamlessly.

Shirts ordered by September 14th will receive their shirts in time for the beginning of refuge week. Sent directly to their address. The USFWS does not hold anyone’s information. It is all done through VRC.

We will adhere to all COVID regulations and guidelines as well as encourage social distancing when on the trails for the walk, a sign-in sheet for those who did not previously registered online (for a head count on how many people attended), bathrooms will be all outside, and hand sanitizer available to the public.

Update 3/5/21:Town of Brookhaven will not pursue Regional Recovery and Recycling Residue Facility (Ash Fill)

Overview: Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine and members of the Town Board today announced that the Town will not pursue construction of a regional municipal ashfill or an ash recycling facility after projected costs associated with the construction of the facility vastly exceeded initial cost estimates. The Town will continue to use its existing facility in Yaphank until it reaches capacity under its existing permit, and will then handle residential municipal waste in the same way nearly all other municipalities have since 1989 when New York law closed other Long Island landfills. 

Overview: The final proposal was to move towards zero waste by restructuring for recycling, pay as you throw models, curbside composting, banning landfills, banning and reducing single-use plastics, mandatory minimums for recycling and partnerships with green companies. This option, comes with its challenges but would also encourage local green businesses and job creation. Ultimately, the committee recommended against the creation of the landfill a burden on the community for the last 50 years. The decision was made by a majority vote.

 “It is recommended that the Brookhaven Landfill be closed on or about December 2024 and that an ashfill not be pursued by Brookhaven Town,” wrote committee chair Miglino. “Furthermore, facility land should be repurposed to work in concert with the local environment where possible. The closing of the facility should be achieved by outsourcing our MSW collection and disposal to private industry, while the Town of Brookhaven retains fiscal and regulatory management of the process.”

For additional information click the link to see the article in the Long Island Advance.

The Town of Brookhaven is proposing a Regional Recovery and Recycling Residue Facility (Ash Fill) at the existing Solid Waste Management Facility

Overview: For more than 20 years Friends of Wertheim has partnered with the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge to preserve critical South Shore habitat for migratory birds and native fauna and flora, while continually enhancing the recreational and educational resources of the Refuge for the public at large. The 2,550 acre refuge is bisected by the Carmans River, a state-designated Wild and Scenic River that is also part of the South Shore Estuary Reserve. The refuge is a critical habitat for migratory birds and diverse forms of wildlife and offers vital recreational and educational opportunities to racially and economically diverse populations within the surrounding communities.

contaminant map

The existing landfill operation in the Town of Brookhaven Solid Waste Management Facility has a history of releasing pollutants into Little Neck Run, a tributary of the Carmans River. Notwithstanding this prior history of contamination of Wertheim’s surface waters, the proposed ash fill would be located closer to the headwaters of these tributaries. The potential adverse impacts to Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge from the proposed ash fill are many and varied and include surface and ground water, air quality, environmental justice and degradation of the wildlife habitat and recreational / educational opportunities at the Refuge. These impacts must be thoroughly studied and alternatives site locations considered. Friends of Wertheim intends to participate in further public proceedings concerning the proposed Ash Fill. 

To learn more please click on the link below and read the full letter to the town detailing our position on the proposed ash fill. Your support helps The Friends of Wertheim protect the interest of our Refuge, the environment, and the surrounding community. 

Ash Fill Letter

Reaching Into Cities Will Help Kids, Wildlife

By Dan Ashe – Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex consists of 10 refuges of which Wertheim NWR is the Headquarters. Many of the Long Island Refuges are considered Urban Refuges, which is why we feel it is important to share this article with you our members.

I was at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act in September. I know for most, New Jersey isn’t the first state that comes to mind when wilderness is discussed.  But Great Swamp, 26 miles as the crow flies from Times Square, was the first Department of the Interior designated wilderness. Today, you can hike eight miles of trails across 3,660 acres of wilderness and experience nature in solitude.

Continue reading “Archival Post”