NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
100 MUNICIPAL DRIVE, NEWTOWN, BUCKS COUNTY, PA 18940
Meeting held on September 28, 2009
The Newtown Township Environmental Advisory Council met on Monday, September 28, 2009 in the Township Building. In attendance and voting was Chairman Jay McGuigan and members Dennis Annarelli, Pam Fitzpatrick and Autumn Thomas. 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 moved to accept the minutes of August 24, 2009. Dr. Annarelli seconded and the motion passed 3-0-1, with Ms. Thomas abstaining
In attendance were representatives of Big Oak Whitetail Association, David Kimble, Peter Olivari and wildlife biologist Len Wallgast. Mr. Olivari presented an overview of the wildlife management plan Big Oak is coordinating in Lower Makefield in Five Mile Woods.
After accumulating data on deer/vehicle accidents and examining the age and health of the herd, Dr. Wallgast, a professor at Rutgers University, who has worked extensively on wildlife management in New Jersey, recommended a program that combined sharpshooting with bow hunting. He noted that the accident information is very similar to Newtown Township’s reports, with frequent accidents, escalating in the fall and early winter at dawn and dusk.
Mr. Olivari said that Big Oak Whitetail Association, affiliated with the Falls Township Rifle and Pistol Association, oversees the bow hunting at Five Mile Woods. Hunters are screened, interviewed and tested before being accepted into the program., which attempts to thin the female population of the herd by requiring a 4-1 ratio of doe to buck kills. To promote safety and control activity, all arrows are marked by Big Oak and must be recovered and accounted for. Hunting is done from tree stands aiming down. There have been no accidents or complaints.
Big Oak, as a non-profit organization, requires all participating hunters to acquire their own licenses, pay their own insurance costs and are expected to make donations of meat to “Hunters Sharing the Harvest.”
Mr. Kimble said that in Lower Makefield sharpshooters from White Buffalo will follow up after the Big Oak hunt. Arrangements are being made with some local owners of private property to be included in the hunt. No baiting will be done for either White Buffalo’s sharpshooting or Big Oak’s bow hunt.
In response to questions from the Commission, Mr. Kimble explained that prior to the hunt, extensive public education programs were conducted in Lower Makefield. Local hunters are already active in the area and are participating in the education program. If Newtown Township were to hold a similar hunt for wildlife management purposes, Big Oak would provide guidance for an education program.
Mr. Kimble noted that the controlled hunts are only effective in the area where they take place and only for a short time. To be successful, municipalities must make a commitment to five to ten years of organized hunts.
Dr. Wallgast stressed that hunt programs such as Big Oak’s are designed to manage the size of a healthy herd, not to eliminate deer. He reviewed some data methods used to determine the age and health of the herd, including examining the jaw bones of killed deer.
In discussing a possible cost for a wildlife management program, Mr. Olivari noted that Big Oak is significantly less expensive than sharpshooting specialists because the participants are local hunters assuming their own costs. If the Township wishes to pursue an estimate, Big Oak would need to know the area to be included. If private property owners are to be included in the hunt, Big Oak would contact those property owners and work with them to assure the hunt takes place within the property owners’ guidelines as to time and areas of the property the hunters would have access to. Mr. Olivari noted that the EAC is probably not aware that many of the larger acreages are already accessed by local hunters with the permission of the property owners. Big Oak would not interfere with any private arrangements. One cost the Township might be expected to assume is the subsidizing of preparation of meat for Share the Harvest.
The EAC thanked Big Oak for its presentation. Mr. McGuigan said that he would speak to the Board of Supervisors about seeking estimates to participate in a hunt, perhaps coordinated with the Tyler Park hunts, since some Township owned lands abut Tyler, and during the hunt, deer migrate onto Township lands.
Newtown Creek Coalition: Mr. Fisher reported that the Coalition is holding a Creek clean-up day on Saturday morning, September 12, 2009.
Planning Commission: Mr. Fisher reported that the Planning Commission has altered its schedule in order to review the plans for the Promenade at the Acme site. It is expected that the site plans will require two or more meetings before the Commission will be ready to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. The Commission has spent many months discussing a vision for Sycamore Street and will be presenting its ideas to the Board at an upcoming joint work session.
Ecostar: The members agreed to table discussion and to consider at a later meeting whether to have a more open ended application cycle for the award.
Green Corner: Ms. Thomas said that she would prepare some winter energy saving tips for the next edition of the Township Newsletter. She would check with Township Assistant Manager John Boyle as to the deadline for submissions.
General Discussion: The members discussed the current EAC membership’s appointments. There is an opening on the EAC for a new member to continue the term of Dr. Kaner. The members asked that the recording secretary review re-appointment dates for each member.
The meeting adjourned at 9:45 PM.
Respectfully submitted by:
Mary Donaldson, Recording Secretary