2005-10-27 / News

No deer hunting at Beavertail this year

By Sam Bari

The subject of deer hunting took an early precedence at the Oct. 19 Beavertail State Park Advisory Committee meeting.

Chief of the state Department of Environmental Management’s Parks and Recreation Division Larry Mouradjian assured committee members that the issue of deer hunting at the state park was alive and well, and that the DEM is continuing to pursue the matter.

“We are still working through the process with the National Park Service to alter regulations to accommodate herd control issues, Mouradjian said.

“Deer hunting is a subject of concern at a number of facilities. We hope to convince the park service that deer hunting is ultimately not a recreational activity per se to meet a passive or nonpassive definition. It is a wildlife management method of control,” he noted. “We hope they will allow some amendment to the program and recognize what we think is a faulty definition.”

“There will be no deer season as far as I know, in the works for this particular hunting season in Beavertail,” Mouradjian said.

Committee Chairman Gary Galkin pointed out that the museum and aquarium at Beavertail State Park were very busy throughout the summer, and that two people were hired as well as a park ranger to attend to those facilities. Galkin also acknowledged the good work of Regional Park Manager Bob Paquette in maintaining the grounds and keeping the facilities clean and in good working order

Paquette reported that the late fall cutting program for shrubs would continue when the ground gets hard enough to continue the work.

Frank D. Meyer, a Town Council-appointed committee member asked how the endangered species of plants were doing without naming specific varieties but noting that the endangered plants were “being encroached upon.”

“There are two issues with the preservation of those species that the Heritage Program has identified,” Mouradjian said. “One is the habitat manipulation, so those plants may not have to compete so vigorously with other species and have an opportunity to proliferate so they can continue to exist,” he noted.

The DEM fish and wildlife division “are also pursuing the deer population issue. They have attempted to take an area where these endangered plants are growing and secure them with deer fencing to further protect them from potential damage,” Mouradjian said.

The subject of putting the installation of restrooms into the five-year park improvement plan was addressed. DEM’s Chief of Division of Planning and Development Robert Sutton cautioned the committee against attempting to link the installation of restroom facilities to a possible visitor interpretive center, which might or might not be built sometime down the road. Putting the two together on the same request could stall the progress for both projects, mainly because of funding restraints, he said.

“It is important that the two projects remain separate issues,” he added.

“Beavertail is definitely on the approved list for building restroom facilities,” Sutton said. “Where it is on the list, I’m not sure.”

Sutton also said that when funds are available, restrooms at Beavertail are a priority.

Lyme disease and the deer tick problem was also a subject of intense discussion. Committee member Hazel Turley noted the importance of educating and informing the public about the indications, dangers, and prevention of the tick-borne disease. She noted that signs should at least be posted warning park visitors to take proper precautions against possible infection.

Mouradjian assured the committee that the DEM has been working with Dr. Mather of the University of Rhode Island and the state Department of Health to look at better ways of educating the public and providing information about Lyme disease. Mather has initiated a program at URI that conducts surveys and risk assessments concerning the spread of the illness. Mather has information on his Web page identifying areas of high potential for the disease. The DEM is working to have that page linked to its Web site.

The information that would be conveyed to the public to avoid contracting Lyme disease would tell people how to dress, what kinds of repellents are effective, and how to recognize the ticks and signs of infection.

Early in the meeting, Meyer asked the DEM representatives if they were practicing gender profiling. He referred to an incident that he heard about where a female was fined $100 for being in the park after hours. He said that she was with a male companion and the male was not charged. Meyer also said that the fine was “over the top” and discriminatory.

Mouradjian responded to the allegation by saying that Meyer was again citing situations that were non-specific, as he had done in previous meetings. Mouradjian also said that although he was willing to look into the matter and provide information concerning the incident, he could not do so without specific information like the time, date, and name of the person involved. Meyer did not provide that information.

Meyer also sent e-mail to all Town Council members and other town officials as well as the Jamestown Press accusing the Beavertail State Park Advisory Committee with not being in compliance with the open meetings act.

Galkin addressed the issues with a letter to Town Clerk Arlene Petit, who assured him through correspondence that this was not the case, and that the committee was in compliance on all points in question.

Meyer said he would send email to everyone concerned stating that he was in error. He cited his source for the information that led him to believe that the committee was errantly posting the minutes of its meetings as Sav Rebecchi, who ran for Town Council in this summer’s election of local officials.

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