Letters to the Editor, November 23, 2013

Fri, 11/22/2013 - 2:45pm

To the Editor:

According to The Block Island Times report of the Conservation Commission meeting of Nov. 12, Chairman Ned Phillips, Jr. brought up a discussion concerning pesticide use on the Island.  During the discussion, Mr. Phillips “suggested sending a letter reminding residents that pesticide use needs a license.” This is too broad of a statement to be true, since private individuals are not required to have a license to use pesticides on their own property. Thus, as reported, a letter to private residents from the Conservation Commission concerning pesticide licensing could lead to confusion and might be considered unnecessary intimidation of the legal rights of private citizens to use pesticides on their own property.

Commercial businesses such as landscapers, arborists or home grounds maintenance personnel who commercially apply pesticides to customers’ property as part of their business, require a Pesticide Applicators License. Private applicators, such as farmers, also require a license especially where restricted pesticides are used. The requirements to obtain a license include attending a University of Rhode Island training program that consists of two eight hour classes, followed by passing a Department of Environmental Management test at the end of the second class. Once individuals have obtained a license, they must also provide evidence of insurance. Licenses require an annual renewal.

To help alleviate concern with the use of pesticides, home gardeners should be reminded to adhere to the label on all pesticides materials. The label is the law. It does not contain any propaganda. All claims and application rates for control of a targeted pest, along with any necessary safety cautions or precautions, have had to pass the scrutiny of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, The Federal Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. The most important consideration with the use of any pesticide, particularly on those used on lawns is a measured calibration of the application of the treated area.

Applying more pesticide in an area than is recommended on the label does not improve the control of any pest. If it did, rest assured the manufacturer would have incorporated that into the label. Therefore, physically measure and mark the area to be treated whether it is 2,500 square feet or 5,000 square feet. Mark out divisions of this area and monitor the rate of application. If it appears that you are applying at too high a rate, adjust the spreader accordingly. Most lawn pesticide product labels provide a guide to set the spreader setting on the more popular models.

Frederick H. Nelson

Beach Avenue




To the Editor:

It’s easy to take Block Island for granted. It is truly a unique experience to spend time here and get to know the town and the people who live here. I spent this past summer on the island and had a blast. However, one day I walked down to my basement to smoke and a horrible smell. Out of options, I dialed 911. The volunteers and the fire department arrived quickly to help. There was no fire, only a burned-out motor in the washing machine. That said, the fire department was amazing.

I cannot praise enough the professionalism and courteousness of the fire department. It was nothing serious, but the origin of the smoke was not clear. It would have been acceptable for the fire department to leave this issue with me, my contractors, and electricians. However, in a community like Block Island, this wasn’t what happened.

Chief Tristan Payne was not satisfied that they couldn’t identify the source of the smoke and stayed until he did. And it took a while. And when he did, he helped me fix the problem. I am so thankful for everyone’s concern and help. This experience made me so proud to be part of Block Island. It made me realize there is more to this place than going to the beach, cycling, running, eating, and drinking.

This is a community — a truly unique group of people who care about their island and home. Please don’t take anything on this island for granted, including those helpful friends, neighbors, and especially town services. Thank you Block Island Volunteer Fire Department and the Town of New Shoreham.

Martin Mickus

Old Town Road and New York City


This letter was sent to the Town Council and copied to The Block Island Times.

To the Editor:

The state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has admitted that our local deer herd presents a risk to Block Island’s natural resources (though not necessarily the island’s people), and has filed emergency regulations to establish a deer reduction program. But let’s take a closer look.

DEM will determine the personnel, timing and methods used to cull the deer herd, but expects the Town of New Shoreham to pick up the tab. (We are assured by members of the Deer Task Force that the money will be privately raised, rather than a public expenditure, but this is beside the point. DEM has always regarded the herd as its own, and should be financially responsible, after years of neglect.

DEM’s program “is not intended to eradicate the population of deer,” but seeks to reduce the herd “to a density that is compatible with the health and natural resources on Block Island,” that is, 10 to 15 deer per square mile, rather than the current 80 to 100 deer per square mile.

This forward movement is remarkable; it is a first for us on Block Island, and it could be a good start. But what are we paying for? A one-time, massive (we hope), reduction that will reduce the herd to a density optimal for the herd’s feeding and breeding. Soon, we will be back where we started. DEM will maintain control of the remaining herd forever, apparently, and we will be at the mercy of state-administered hunting programs that, in decades past, have allowed the deer herd to grow and grow.

A professional hunt such as the one proposed is advisable for this level of reduction. The Deer Task Force is to be commended for stepping up to the plate with some fundraising. (About 20 years ago, Tony DiNicola, a sharpshooter from Connecticut, spoke at a public meeting here and projected a price tag far in excess of current estimates to significantly reduce the herd at that time, with no guarantee of total eradication.)

Let us maintain our dialogue with DEM by all means, but let us do so with our eyes wide open.

Fran Migliaccio

Sands Pond Road