A Fourth of July tradition in one Sullivan County hamlet has been cancelled. As our Venise Toussaint explains, the decision isn't financial as many other municipalities have faced, but environmental.
SULLIVAN COUNTY, N.Y. -- The highly anticipated firework show in Narrowsburg has been cancelled, ironically, for fear of harming our nation’s symbol, the bald eagle.
“This whole community is upset about it that we can’t celebrate the Fourth of July in the traditional way that we’re accustomed to,” said Town of Tusten Supervisor Carol Ropke-Wingert.
The hamlet, dubbed the Eagle Capital of New York, has held a traditional firework celebration for more than a hundred years and is one of the oldest and largest shows in Sullivan County. A call to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service put a damper on this year’s Fourth of July celebration.
“The resident had brought it to the attention of the DEC and Fish and Wildlife that an eagle was knocked out of the nest and they’re blaming the fireworks for that,” Ropke-Wingert.
Ropke-Wingert says there’s no evidence that the fireworks actually caused the eagle injury.
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, injuring or disturbing eagles is a violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and is punishable by hefty fines.
“I just thought this just can’t be true because this is the biggest day of the year here,” said Narrowsburg resident Stanley Harper.
A spokeswomen for the bureau said, “Because fireworks can have negative impacts on eagles, we ask that people adjust their practices as needed to protect eagles and their young… our goal is to help people find ways to balance both their activities and the needs of our native wildlife.”
“It’s just a shame. We need to protect the eagles because they’re part of our town as well, but at the same time, this has been going on for over a hundred years, so we’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Ropke-Wingert.
The Lava Fire Department, which was set to sponsor the event, had already made a non-refundable $3,200 deposit on the $6,000 show. The department pulled out to avoid thousands of dollars in fines.
Town Supervisor Carol Ropke-Wingert says she hopes an agreement can be worked so the show can go on next year.