Galeville Status Report
I received the following newsletter update from the USFWS, click here to read all about it.
May 22, 2002
From: Jean Pailet
Subject: GALEVILLE STATUS REPORT
On Monday, May 13th, the "Galeville Gang" (Krivin, Langelius, Mathewson, and Pailet) met with Congressman Benjamin A.Gilman at his Monsey, N.Y. office. Brian Walsh, of Mr. Gilman's staff, joined us from Washington via telephone conferencing.
The primary purpose of the meeting was to assess the impact of the Fish & Wildlife Service's Final Compatibility Determination on our efforts to regain access to Galeville. All present felt it was necessary to discuss and determine the practicality of pursuing the matter further. All present concluded that we should continue our efforts.
Congressman Gilman suggested three options:
Appeal the Compatibility Determination - A formal appeal has already been initiated by the AMA. An attempt will also be made to have the CD reviewed by Interior Department Secretary Norton to preclude the judgment being made by someone who is directly involved and who already has an adversarial position on the subject. In addition, Mr. Gilman asked Brian to contact the Justice Department to assure that the Final CD was approved and issued in the manner proscribed by law.
Legislative Route - The current realigning of congressional districts in the Galeville vicinity may impact Congressman Gilman or Congressman Hinchey or both. The final result could offer the opportunity of legislative redress via an omnibus package of bills to be considered by the House Resources Committee this fall.
Another Location - The Congressman has initiated a search for an alternate flying site with a basic requirement of a relatively flat area of one square mile. He mentioned a number of low-activity small airports with which he is familiar as worth investigating. He noted that responses from a number of government agencies already contacted, were negative.
April 19, 2002
From: Dave Mathewson, AMA Vice President, District II (Stolen from AMA Website)
On February 20, 2002, the US F&WL (United States Fish and Wildlife) Service issued a Final Compatibility Determination regarding the return of Free Flight modeling activities to the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge in Galeville NY. The determination concluded that modeling activities would not be permitted on the facility. It appears, on the surface, that the several thousands letters sent to the local F&WL management at Galeville by our members, many with specific information detailing the compatibility of modeling activities and wildlife, were largely ignored.
AMA is also concerned that a letter sent to Congressman Ben Gilman (R-NY), an advocate for modeling, upholding the conclusions of the Compatibility Determination, was received by his office several weeks before the February 8, 2002 response deadline to the draft.
Additionally, we question whether US F&WL gave adequate consideration to AMA’s 58-page submission outlining our position. Included in this document was a report furnished by Northeast Environmental Management Systems updating a previous report done in 1996. This document was prepared by Kenneth Scarlatelli, a professional Wetland Scientist, Certified Wildlife Biologist, and Certified Ornithologist. Mr. Scarlatelli concluded that “Continued use of the site for Free Flight activities would pose no significant negative impacts to the flora or fauna of the site beyond those that occurred, continue to occur, and are contemplated to occur by the (US F&WL) Service as permissible in the future. Use of the site by (Free Flight modelers) is, therefore, compatible with the fulfillment of the National Wildlife Refuge System mission and the purposes of the Refuge.”
AMA has filed a request to appeal this decision before the Regional Director of the US F&WL Service.
April 9, 2002
From: Jean Pailet
Subject: Galeville Status Report
Two thousand, one hundred, and twenty-one (2,121) individuals (presumably, primarily aeromodelers). Clubs, Associations, and organizations wrote to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service opposing their draft "Compatibility Determination" on model flying at the Galeville airfield. Such outstanding support is sincerely appreciated. By contrast, only 222 responses favored the FWS position. The AMA did a noteworthy job of marshaling the forces of the aeromodeling community. They also solicited and coordinated the expert inputs from many notable environmental, veterinarian and ornithological individuals.
Unfortunately, as might have been expected, this all fell on deaf ears. The FWS people had made up their minds with no intention of being confused" by any opposing relevant facts. Therefore, they issued a "Final Determination" in late February 2002, concluding. that model airplanes and birds are not compatible. One wonders if they ever asked the birds?! Making matters worse, also in February, an Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior responded negatively to Congressman Gilman's earlier request that Interior Secretary Norton review the matter herself. That response was dated before responses to the draft CL were due. It could not possibly have fairly considered the well-documented viewpoint of the modelers. Nonetheless, it fully supported the FWS ban on aeromodeling at Galeville.
Fortunately, though chances are slim, the story does not necessarily end here. There is an appeals process to the Final Compatibility Determination that is currently being pursued by the AMA. It is also hoped that Congressman Gilman will continue to support us throughout the appeal and whatever other course(s) of action may be taken.
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