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CONCERNS RAISED, STEPS TAKEN TO DEVELOP WETLANDS

The way has been paved to develop a wetlands in an old farm field, not far from Tonawanda Creek off Koepsel Road in Newstead.

The Town Board last week OK'd an excavation permit for Earth Dimensions of Elma, with conditions recommended by the town's five-member Conservation Advisory Council. Among the concerns are flooding, off-site soil hauling, periodic site inspections and mosquito control.

The Advisory Council also met with state Department of Environmental Conservation officials to discuss the project's impact on the mosquito population.

Jacques Berlin, an entomologist for the DEC's Western Region, said it is essential that the project take measures to keep the mosquito population down, erasing the chance that mosquitoes might become frequent visitors to nearby homes. He addressed his concerns in a letter to Code Enforcement Officer Donnal D. Folger.

"One of the goals in designing a wetland would allow for the establishment of natural mosquito predators in any ponded water," he said. "A second goal, which should be accomplished after the design stage, would be a plan for an ongoing monitoring program of the mosquito population during and after construction."

Developing wetlands is a relatively new idea, first presented to the Town Board about a year ago by soil scientist Donald W. Owens, the head of Earth Dimensions.

"It's a way of consolidating small wetlands into some larger wetlands, so they can be preserved," Owens said in a Buffalo News report.

"This concept is new," he added. "This is sort of a simple way of consolidating wetlands and being successful at saving them."

Newstead Supervisor Donald C. Holmes said the idea works in synch with government regulations requiring the preservation of wetlands. He noted that, with this new concept, when developers or builders want to "encroach over a wetland building project, they have to create wetland space somewhere else to make up for it."

The Advisory Council, in a recently released report, noted that the project, which will be in two phases, appears fairly well engineered.

"While everyone agrees that wetlands are in general good things, it would not be in the town's best interest to convert significant portions of the town to this purpose," the report said. "Also, since this is very likely the first of more similar projects, it would seem that it would be in the town's best interest to require as good a job as is reasonably possible and ensure that the project doesn't have serious adverse effects on adjoining property owners."

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