The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Cuts to deer management program loom again


By DON HEPPNER

Dan Aitchison’s job as wildlife curator for the Westchester County Parks is on the chopping block again, for the second time in as many years, because of cutbacks in the Westchester County 2013 budget.

Mr. Aitchison is in charge of coordinating and managing the Westchester County deer management program that would not exist without his leadership.

“If the Westchester County deer management program ceases to be, I am going to recommend to the town board that we terminate our deer management program,” Pound Ridge Police Chief Dave Ryan said. “The solution to the deer population problem is regional, and if the deer management program in the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation is canceled, it would put too much stress on our program.”

‘The program is beginning to see some good results after three years, but all that good will be lost if the deer population increases again.’

— Dan Aitchison

Rod Christie, executive director of the Mianus River Gorge Preserve in Bedford, said that the employees of the Mianus Gorge Preserve and the staff of the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation work closely on a variety of projects.

He said that if Mr. Aitchison leaves the county, the deer management program will “die” with his departure. “It is important that the deer management program continue for the health of the environment,” he said. “The program is beginning to see some good results after three years, but all that good will be lost if the deer population increases again.”

When the deer herd was counted three years ago, there were about 64 deer per square mile on the reservation. The last count done in June indicated about 45 deer per square mile on the reservation. The counting method used in both cases was the same.

Biodiversity and water quality are two fundamental issues in northern Westchester County, according to Bill Harding, executive director of the New York Department of State.

“The role that deer management plays in protecting our environment is a critical one, and the role that Dan plays in that program is critical,” Mr. Harding said this week. “We get a ‘bang for the buck’ with that program.”

The gains we all accrue from deer management programs are valuable because, among other things, the deer management program protects our water. “It is difficult to put a price tag on that,” said Mr. Harding. “Water quality in northern Westchester is as important, if not more important, than anywhere else.”

He said that the area provides water for over nine million people and is the largest unfiltered water supply in the world. “I know that counts for something with our county executive,” Mr. Harding said. “I know that every day he helps us take care of that drinking water, and I think he understands the role that parks plays in that protection.”

A deer management program fact sheet compiled by naturalist Beth Herr, former superintendent of the 4,700-acre reservation, states that hunters volunteer over 4,000 hours a year hunting and helping with other projects, while supporting local businesses by purchasing food, equipment and clothing in the area.

The report states that hunters’ fees generated $3,760 paid to the county; since there is little cost for materials, this money could help offset salaries. Improvements in forest health are being seen at other management programs and should be seen in the county parks in a few years.

Hunters helped construct the 3-D archery course at Blue Mountain Sportsman’s Center in Cortlandt Manor, and pay fees to use it as well as pay to compete in competitions. For the first time in years, the archery course has had a consistent flow of users.

The curator of wildlife position includes ongoing research projects with Mianus River Gorge Preserve to network on this regional issue.

Mr. Aitchison prevented beaver damage and saved two sections of the North County Trailway and a road at Mountain Lakes that was utilized by 400 cars a day during the summer.

Nonlethal goose prevention had cost the county $9,000 a year with an outside contractor, but is now done in-house through the curator of wildlife position.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has allowed exclusive access for management of portions of their property to the Westchester County deer management program, due solely to Mr. Aitchison’s work and the relationship he has formed with them.

The curator of wildlife is the liaison between federal, city and state agencies, such as the United States Department of Agriculture and the New York State DEC, which have a vested interest in our county parkland because these are not localized issues but rather regional ones.

Ms. Herr stated in the report that the Westchester County deer management program has become a model for other local townships and even counties looking to start deer management programs.

A 1991 report done for the parks department stated that $6.4 to $9.5 million in landscaping damages had been done to the area, and that deer continued to take a toll on public and private lands.

County legislator Pete Harckham said on Tuesday that he knows how important the deer management program is to the public and how important the Trailside Museum is for all its educational programs.

He said that the county’s budget process has just begun, and he and the other legislators will go through all of its 6,000 lines to see where cuts can be made and what can be done to keep Mr. Aitchison’s position.

“We are looking to find efficiencies in other areas of the budget,” he said. “We have to see where the numbers lead us.”


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November 23, 2012

‘Pops, Patriots and Fireworks’

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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