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Plan presented to construct three deer exclosures at town preserves

The Southold Department of Public Works is seeking $92,000 in state grant funding to expand their deer harvest donation program.

At a Town Board work session Tuesday, DPW environmental analyst Craig Jobes explained that the grant funding would cover renovations on the red garages located at the Peconic Lane Community Center. Improvements would include electric, water, drainage, windows, office space, sinks, several chest freezers to store processed meat and costs associated with the butchering service used.

“The money we’re asking for would help us to form a better program,” he said. “It would allow us a lot more storage space.” Results of the grant are pending.

A refrigerated trailer already used on the site would be moved to a new location next door, Mr. Jobes said.

Mr. Jobes and DPW director Jeff Standish also presented plans to construct three deer exclosures at three town preserves using money from the Community Preservation Fund.

The exclosures would be located along hiking trails at Tall Pines preserve, Paul Stoutenburgh Preserve and Mill Road Preserves in an effort to regenerate species decimated by deer, such as sassafras and maple-leaf viburnum.

The goal is to encourage the growth of younger saplings that might not otherwise survive. He noted that the fences would initially cover about a half acre at each preserve and could be moved around once growth occurs in order to protect other species vulnerable to deer.

Supervisor Scott Russell welcomed the idea, pointing to the success a similar exclosure has had at Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island.

“The regeneration of the understory is stunning compared to the other side [of the fence,] which is essentially almost barren,” he said.

Councilman Jim Dinizio also supports the measure but suggested that some residents may be concerned that the exclosures will push deer into more populated residential areas.

Mr. Russell encouraged the board to look at the long-term impacts.

“The more you restrict the food source, it’s going to impact the population growth over time,” he said.

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