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Group For The East End's Summer Gala Focuses On State Of Local Wildlife

Lee Fryd

Katherine Leahy Birch, G4EE President Bob DeLuca, and Kristen Briner. (Photo: Lisa Tamburini)

As we carve out our slices of paradise here in the Hamptons, it's easy to forget that what we love, we could be destroying. Every new development or McMansion, every outdated septic tank unsettles the delicate balance of land and wild life that brought us here. And so, in 1972, to address the unbridled land grab, the Group for the East End (G4EE) was born.

This year's G4EE Gala at the Wolffer Estate Vineyard, "Where the Wild Things...," referred to the precarious state of our iconic wildlife. There are 175 out of 600 species that might not survive the next ten years, according to a recent NY State Department of Environmental Conservation study. "You might assume we'd be talking about the rare animal or caterpillar," said Group President Bob DeLuca. "But the list includes oysters, blackfish, flounder, lobster, scallops, horseshoe crabs... things that we think of as part of the background wild life that's here. If those species are in trouble, we are in trouble. And it's our job to get the system back in order."

"I know that there are people for whom these water quality issues that we talk about seem very amorphous: a bunch of septic systems, drinking water protection plans or whatever," he continued. "But, those people eat scallops, those people eat oysters, those people catch flounder."

Toxic algae in the Peconic Bay Estuaries killed 400,000 bunkers and 200 turtles this spring. "It's time to stop blaming the fish," declared DeLuca. The nitrogen from antiquated septic systems is destroying oxygen in our bays and estuaries. G4EE works with the Clean Water Partnership to build community legislative policy and budget support.

Anna Throne-Holst and Roman Roth. (Photo: Lisa Tamburini)

Their many victories give them hope for more, reclaiming $45 million in State Funds that were misappropriated away from earmarked environmental causes, saving the Long Island Pine Barrens, and taking the osprey off the endangered species list.

Chairman of the Board William S. McChesney and Katherine Leahy Birch (the inspiration for the Birch Trees adorning the sides of the tent), Benefit Co-Chair & Vice Chair of the Board, also spoke. Noah Schwartz, of noah's served as the event's Executive Chef. Co-Chairs included Katherine and Marco Birch, Kristen and Clark Briner, Carolyn and Greg Hoogkamp, Genevieve and Robert Lynch, Deni and Bill McChesney, Kim White and Kurt Wolfgruber.

Next time you jump in the water, thank G4EE.

For more information, visit www.groupfortheeastend.org.


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