FALCONER - Mother Nature has been the culprit for several local issues lately, and Falconer's mosquito problem has been added to the list.
Village residents scratched the surface of the complex problem Tuesday night at Fenner Elementary School, and reached out to county officials for help. Overwhelming masses of mosquitoes have become such a problem that community members have named it a "disaster."
"It's a major problem in the entire village," said Keith Nelson, who teamed up with his wife Glenda to launch a community action plan and brainstorm solutions in the open forum on Tuesday.
Pictured, from left, are Jamie Haight, field biologist with the state Health Department; County Executive Vince Horrigan; Falconer Mayor David Krieg; and Mark Stow, director of environmental health. The panel joined for an open forum at Fenner Elementary School in Falconer on Tuesday evening to answer questions and help brainstorm solutions for the village’s out-of-control mosquito problem.
P-J photo by Katie Atkins
A panel of speakers included Jamie Haight, field biologist with the state Health Department, County Executive Vince Horrigan, Falconer Mayor David Krieg and Mark Stow, director of environmental health.
Haight said as long as it continues to rain, the mosquito population isn't likely to die out any time soon. Furthermore, the problem is geographic and widespread.
There are 50-72 different species of mosquito, which breed in different types of wet environments.
"It doesn't take much water - I've found mosquito larvae in a bottle cap," Haight said, adding that a lot of species test positive for certain types of diseases, but only a fraction are able to transmit them to humans.
"We can't control the water, but we can control what it collects in," Horrigan said. "We all can do our best to eliminate breeding areas, to look at our own properties and try to eliminate those to some degree."
"We have all done those things," said Glenda Nelson. "Our problem where we live is the Chadakoin, the problem is the millrace and the debris that is completely blocking that overflow. We had this conversation at the June meeting and talked about the possibility of getting back there to clean it up, but those are protected wetlands."
While the Chadakoin River flows through Falconer, residents believe it could be the cause of the mosquito problem. Heavy rains cause overflow to sit for days with nowhere to drain.
"Once you hit the eastern border of Ellicott and the town of Poland, look what's over there," Haight said, adding that the portion of land is a swamp. "There's a lot happening here, and it's all about the amount of water sitting out there right now."
An audience member asked what would happen if an epidemic were to hit the village, to which Haight said the state health commissioner would require that the area be sprayed. But, he said spraying only fixes the problem temporarily.
"In terms of spraying, that's a whole different ballgame," Horrigan said. "It would have to get to a new level, not just a nuisance."
Glenda Nelson said she would continue to fight for a solution to the village's mosquito problem and called on Horrigan and Krieg to keep the lines of communication open.
Another audience member asked what the elected officials were going to do for the village.
"From the county perspective we're going to get together with the village, focus on the millrace and get it figured out," Horrigan said. "I can't tell you right now, but I'm willing to commit to it as the county executive. I'm not willing to commit to spraying because there's a huge number of implications to that."
More meetings will be held in the coming months.