Friends of Connetquot River State Park Preserve
FriendsOfConnetquot.org | PO Box 472 | Oakdale, NY | 11769 | Contact Us

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FOC Receives Grants!

The Friends are proud of the support from the foundations whose links appear below. The capacity building grants they have awarded us will greatly help in strengthening our organization for the benefit of Connetquot River State Park Preserve:

The Robert D. L. Gardiner Foundation

New York State Council on the Arts

Parks & Trails New York

Upstate History Alliance

Click here to read the details of these grants

Hatchery News...

October 23, 2014 - MAJOR UPDATE!

Hatchery to Reopen and Restore Trout Fishing on Connetquot River State Park!

Click here to read the complete press release!


The New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation and Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation are working along with an independent fisheries consultant to come up with a plan to eventually eliminate IPN from the trout in Connetquot State Park Preserve. It is the understanding of the Friends, that this plan will take into consideration all of the related issues including fish pathology, environmental impacts on the ecosystem, historic preservation, park management and economics.

HEALTH

  • Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN) is a virus that primarily effects juvenile trout.
  • IPN is not harmful to humans.

HISTORY

  • The hatchery has operated successfully and continuously for over 140 years.
  • The presence of IPN at Connetquot was first confirmed by tests in 2006.
  • The Connetquot hatchery is one of the most successful programs in the State for Brook Trout.
  • Connetquot trout are genetically unique. Brook, brown and rainbows trout at Connetquot have been bred from a combination of gene pools including sea run fish. New trout may or may not be as successful in the Connetquot River.
  • Connetquot Trout are almost free from boils, square tail and other diseases. No chemicals or drugs are currently required.
  • The Connetquot Hatchery is an integral portion of the historic framework and cultural landscape of the Connetquot Preserve.

SCIENCE

  • In order to eliminate IPN from Connetquot it is important that only fish which are IPN free are used as a source of eggs. It is also important that fish density and water source be carefully managed at the hatchery to eliminate horizontal transmission of the disease.
  • Even if all of the fish in the Connetquot were destroyed, there is no guarantee that IPN would not be reintroduced in a short time from muskrats, raccoons, rats, possums, gulls, egrets, osprey, invertebrates and eels all of which have constant access to the River and all of which may carry IPN.
  • It is clear that a comprehensive scientific investigation including testing of fish at various locations in the river will be required to attain optimal results and long term health of Connetquot trout.

LAW

  • New York's State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) requires all state and local government agencies to consider environmental impacts equally with social and economic factors during discretionary decision-making. SEQR requires the agencies to balance the environmental impacts with social and economic factors when deciding to approve or undertake an "Action." Closing the hatchery will impact the entire Connetquot estuary ecosystem including Park economics, ecology and cultural landscape including the historic buildings and activities. No study has been done.
  • If the hatchery license is not renewed there is no guarantee that the hatchery can ever be reopened due to the potential conflict between current regulations and the status of the hatchery on the National Registry of Historic buildings.
  • NYS DEC maintains that effective January 1, 2008 it is illegal for any one to possess or release fish into the waters of the State of new York unless those fish have been certified as being IPN free within the prior 12 months. The FOC agree that Regulation 188.1 is the enabling portion of the Reg. which mandates a fish health certification report as described in 188.2 on all fish to be released. We also agree that Regulation 188.2 provides that the report indicate that the fish are free of IPN. However 188.1(b) (2) provides that fish can be released without a health certification report “pursuant to permit issued by the department in its discretion.”
  • IPN is not considered a reportable disease by the US government, England and most other states including Pennsylvania.

FINANCE

  • Approximately 230,000 visitors log into the Connetquot Preserve. Based on anecdotal information almost 80 % of those visitors go to see the hatchery. No one is going to pay to see empty concrete ponds. Few anglers will pay to fish and not catch.
  • It makes no sense to intentionally reduce the Preserves revenue steam, especially considering our national and state budget crises.
  • Plans for a new hatchery that relies on well water would involve complex and expensive permitting, design and construction issues.
  • Replacing natural stream flow with pumped water is an expensive environmental step backwards. Yearly operating costs would skyrocket with massive pumps running 24 hours a day.

ALTERNATIVE

  • There is no downside to allowing Connetquot to operate as an isolated hatchery and fishery, with no fish shipped out. Only clean eggs would be used for breeding and all hatchery operations would be conducted in consultation with an expert.
  • Allowing the hatchery to operate on a limited basis will allow for public debate and considered review of the science, preservation, financial and operational issues.

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

The experts required to consult on managing IPN are expensive and it is unclear when or how the State will be able to fund this effort.

Please send your donations to:
Friends of Connetquot
Box 472 Oakdale, NY 11769

IN THE NEWS

Here you'll find links to stories that have run in local publications on the Hatchery.  Most of these stories can also be found on our "In The News" page.

UPDATES

UPDATE: August 6, 2009

Dr. Richard Steinberger extensively researched the issue of the hatchery closing for the Idle Hour Fly Fishers titled, Connetquot River State Park Trout Hatchery: Victim of Nature and Dysfunctional Government.

Click here to read the full article

 

UPDATE: August 6, 2009

Lawrence Merryman of the Great South Bay Audubon Society wrote the following letter to Commissioner Carol Ash:

Re: Connetquot River State Park Preserve - Fish Hatchery

Dear Commissioner Ash:

On November 5, 2008, I forwarded a letter outlining the concerns of the Great South Bay Audubon Society regarding the decision to close the Fish Hatchery at the Connetquot River State Park Preserve. Since that letter, the problems that would ensue if the hatchery were closed down have happened. It is our understanding that the paid entry of fisherman is down by 90%, and the total paid entry of visitors is down by 30%. We don’t really know if these shocking figures are correct, but it is a fact that paid entries are down substantially.

The members of the Great South Bay Audubon Society, numbering nearly 1,000 citizens on the south shore of Suffolk County, continue to be very concerned about the snail like progress being made to reopen the Fish Hatchery - formally a jewel in the crown of State parklands in our area. We are beseeching you to work with the Department of Environmental Conservation to quickly remedy this problem and restore our hatchery so the fishermen, and those who previously came to observe and enjoy it can once again take pleasure in nature at this treasured site.

On August 18th a rally will be held to demand that something positive be done to quickly reopen the hatchery. This is an issue that is not going away until positive remedial action is taken. Once again, the members of the Great South Bay Audubon Society respectfully request that whatever steps are needed to reopen the hatchery be immediately undertaken. I am certain that you and the DEC will develop a quick and reasoned approach to this problem. I would greatly appreciate it if you would contact me to indicate when you are going to reopen the hatchery. I can be reached at my email address hawkauk7@optonline.net or by telephone at 631-669-6473. Thank you.

Yours Truly,

Lawrence A. Merryman
Conservation Chairman Great South Bay Audubon Society

UPDATE: July 28, 2009

Town of Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan will hold a press conference on August 18th at 11:00 at the Connetquot State Park Preserve Hatchery. This conference will serve as a community plea for complete and immediate State funding for a full-spectrum Environmental review that could preserve the Connetquot Hatchery.

We would encourage interested parties that feel the N.Y.S. Parks needs to focus on reopening the hatchery to attend. This would include representatives of the local tackle shops, hotels, fisherman, boy and girl scouts, BOCES, Casting for Recovery, handicap fisherman etc. As many of you know, the number of fisherman is down 90% and the total number of visitors to the Park may be down as much as 30%. We need to put pressure on N.Y.S. Parks to get the hatchery back in action.

For more information on the event, please contact the Office of Public Information at 631-224-5485. We look forward to seeing you there.

Click here to read Phil Nolan's letter, requesting your attendance.

UPDATE: March 17, 2009

After over 120 years of continuous operation, the hatchery was temporarily closed on December 31, as a first step toward achieving the DEC goal of eliminating IPN from the Connetquot River.

DEC and Parks have invited two consultants to submit bids for a comprehensive study of the "IPN problem". The first group (HDR) visited the Preserve in December and submitted their bid in January. The HDR bid will not be made public until the second consultant (Fresh Water Institute) has visited the Preserve in March and has submitted their bid. This is being done to keep the bid process fair. It is unlikely that any testing of fish in the river or testing of river water or trial hatching or hatchery cleanup will be done until a consultant is approved and a study is funded by the State.

Approximately 60,000 trout were released in December in anticipation of the hatchery being closed. Visual observations by Preserve staff and members of the Idle Hour Fly Fishing Club indicate that the number of fish in the lower brook is about 10% of the norm for this time of year. This drop in fish numbers appears to be a product of the DEC "no feed" policy, as well as fishing and predation. Fish may swim up river from the main pond in early summer to find cooler water, but the Friends remain concerned that the fishing in August and September will be very poor in comparison to the past 100 years. Fishing may be particularly slow on those beats that rely on daily feeding to hold trout. Habitat improvements at those locations are a possible long term solution, but it will still be tough going this year for the inexperienced or handicap angler. The Friends remain concerned that very poor fishing on many beats and fewer fish on all beats will result in a significant drop in fishermen and Preserve revenues for 2009.

UPDATE - 12/8/2008

State Senator Owen H. Johnson has contacted Commissioner Grannis with a request to "postpone any decision on the closing of the hatchery at Connetquot State Park."  Click here to read the full letter.

UPDATE - 11/21/2008

Friends board member Keith Snedecor has sent a letter to DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis.  Click here to read.

UPDATE - 11/17/2008

Friends President Bob Labuski has sent a letter to DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis.  Click here to read.

UPDATE - 11/14/2008

Richard Remmer has put together a video about the hatchery and IPN and uploaded it to YouTube.  View it here or click here to view it at the YouTube website:

UPDATE - 11/7/2008

Click here to Read former Friend's Chairman Richard Remmer's letter to Carol Ash, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and State Historic Preservation Officer.

UPDATE - 11/5/2008

Lawrence Merryman, Conservation Chairman of the Great South Bay Audubon Society and member of the Friends of Connetquot has penned a letter and sent it to Carol Ash (click here to read) and DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis (click here to read.)

UPDATE - 9/30/2008

NY Assemblywoman Ginny Fields has sent a letter to DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis (click here to read.)

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