NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Meeting held on August 24, 2009
The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, August 24, 2009 in the Township Building. In attendance and voting were co-chairmen Aliya Aslam and Jay McGuigan and members Dennis Annarelli, Pam Fitzpatrick and Walt Leck. Also present was Planning Commission Liaison Dennis Fisher.
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 PM.
Approval of Minutes
Mr. McGuigan recommended that the following quote be added, attributed to Mrs. Bray, on page 2, first paragraph, “non-lethal methods are not going to solve the problem but neither will lethal.”
Mr. McGuigan moved to accept the minutes of July 27, 2009, as amended. Ms. Aslam seconded and the motion passed 5-0.
Eric Shade and Joe Nugent of Eccologix and wildlife biologist C.J. Winand were in a attendance to discuss Eccologix work with Upper Makefield as part of its wildlife management plan. Eccologix has evaluated and provided a deer management plan for Upper Makefield and has worked with Township officials and residents to coordinate a year round bow hunting effort to protect Upper Makefield’s open space and reduce deer/vehicle collisions.
Mr. Winand discussed the urban deer problem faced by many municipalities, highlighting the need for a controlled population, particularly for the health of the herd, noting that while the size of the herd has increased in areas like Bocks County, the average weight has diminished. He outlined some information of the “compensatory rebound effect”, noting low birth weights, low adult weights and shortened life span of deer in urban settings. He discussed the safety of hunting as a sport, as well as the benefits of hunting in providing food and provided some information on research being done on oral contraception, which has only shown a promise of possible effectiveness in deer kept in enclosures.
Mr. Shade reviewed the procedure used for Upper Makefield, which included public information meetings and mailings to residents. Publicly owned lands were included in the program and property owners joined the effort. Included among property owners were the common grounds and open spaces of a number of developments. Mr. Shade explained that property owners met with Eccologix representatives to determine when hunting would take place. The property owners were able to block out dates and times when hunting would not be permitted. Eccologix then conducted a series of tests and interviews of interested bow hunters, signing on those who were committed to frequent hunting, not occasional weekend hunters. Rules are in place on the number of bucks a hunter can kill, as well as numerous safety rules to protect other hunters as well as residents. The program gives property owners methods to contact the Township and Eccologix with any issues or concerns about the hunters in the program.
Mr. Shade reported a sharp decline in Upper Makefield’s deer/ vehicle accidents, an 83% reduction. He noted that the hunt is not a quick fix, but must be conducted over the course 8 to 10 years. Eccologix is also working with the Heritage Conservancy on its properties in the County. The cost of Upper Makefield’s hunt was $48,000.
The Commission members discussed further investigation into costs to Newtown Township, with the first priority being public information and input. Ms. Aslam asked for copies of RFP’s from other nearby municipalities to help the Commission determine what should be included in a proposal.
Mr. Shade said that there is no charge of an estimate; a menu of services could be provided.
Mr. Winand said that he would send members a DVD on the benefits of wildlife management, which highlights some harvest data, live weight information and data on road kills and reported accidents.
Mr. Leck suggested that if the Commission members find the DVD informative, it might be shared with residents on the Township television channel.
The members agreed that after reviewing the information provided, they would begin to prepare a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors.
Mr. McGuigan reported that he had attended the information meeting at Tyler Park, as the DCNR is considering adding bow hunting and extending the hunting season in the park.
Newtown Creek Coalition: Ms. Aslam reported that the next Creek Clean Up day is September 12, 2009. She said she would attend the September meeting and asked that other members coordinate to represent the EAC at subsequent meetings.
Planning Commission: Mr. Fisher said that in discussing wildlife management at the Planning Commission there has been some consideration of red fox and goose populations as well as deer.
The Commission has reviewed the Township’s updated open space comprehensive plan. A few items were to be added, such as index and attachments. The plan can be viewed on the Township’s Web site.
Mr. Fisher noted that at the Newtown Area Regional Planning Commission, there has been some discussion of stormwater management basins. He would continue to update the EAC on this.
Ecostar: Them members agreed that, as no applicants had come forward in time for the 2009 award, the EAC would directly contact the two local businesses which expressed interest after the deadline to have their applications completed in time for the 2010 award.
Ms. Aslam said that she had participated in the Washington Crossing Park clean-up day. The park is in need of volunteer support to maintain it. She asked that the members circulate information on volunteer opportunities among their interested friends and colleagues.
The meeting adjourned at 10:30 PM.
Respectfully submitted by:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary