Mt. Tremper man charged with illegal stream digging

By Jay Braman Jr.
A Mount Tremper man is free on $5,000 bail after being arrested for working in the Esopus Creek with a backhoe.
Algernon Reese was arrested last Wednesday after a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEP) Police Officer responded to a complaint that Reese was working in the stream with equipment and a crew of workers. He was charged with the misdemeanors of obstructing governmental administration, disturbing a protected stream and violating a general prohibition against pollution.
This is not the first time Reese has had trouble with environmental officials, police say.
On August 6, DEC Police received a complaint from the Shandaken Town Zoning Office about a backhoe in the Esopus Creek, which is protected by the state, off Plank Road, also known as old Route 28, between Phoenicia and Mount Tremper about a half mile west of the Zen Mountain Monetary. Police charged Reese, an attorney and member of the Shandaken Assessment Review Board, with the misdemeanor of disturbing a protected stream, punishable by up to a year in jail or a $10,000 fine, and released him with an appearance ticket for Shandaken Town Court.
Police received another complaint last week, and allegedly found Reese again working in the stream. Police said Reese then allegedly obstructed DEC Officer Vernon Fonda's investigation, and was arrested.
Police describe Reese’s work in the stream while charges are pending as a blatant disregard for the law, according to DEC Lt. Deming Lindsley.
Lindsley told reporters that when Fonda attempted to interview the contractors, Reese prevented him, saying he represented them as counsel and would not allow them to speak to the officer.
Reese, who spent months trying to obtain permits to build on the land several years ago, was allegedly trying to control the stream and prevent flooding from reaching the property. His property lies in the Esopus floodplain and was severely damaged in the flood of April 3, 2005.
Since then he has put in concrete barriers, built mounds and dug trenches to keep the Esopus, which forms a moat around his land during high water events, from destroying it again.