The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers are dedicated to the preservation, protection, enhancement and restoration of the fragile ecosystem of Jamaica Bay. We have been and will continue to serve as the advocacy organization for the environmental concerns for Jamaica Bay.
April 15 2013
Governor Cuomo helps fund Wetlands Restoration in Jamaica Bay!
The governor released a press release today that highlighted the states financial support for Wetlands restoration in Jamaica Bay and cited the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers as critical partners in this process.
Read Full story here
April 9 2013
Ecowatchers featured in Eco ocean Profile
The following is a link to a recent profile story that ran on the Eco Ocean Website. We thank Mike Misner for his tireless efforts to protect our ocean resources as well as the very flattering coverage!
February 6 2013
SPRING PLANTING !!
Spring will be here soon and we are planning now for the next phase of the Rulers/ Black wall project and that is planting Spartina plugs on the recently created islands. Below is a link for those who would like to register to volunteer. Dates and times will be posted as we get into the spring but we are looking to create a database of volunteers we may be able to count on when we get ready to start. The planting is a great day out on the bay and enables you to have a great story to tell in years to come of how you played a direct role in in helping to save Jamaica Bay !! Volunteer HERE .
January 29th 2013
Jamaica Bay Task Force Meeting Update
A standing room only crowd gathered tonight to hear from a panel of agency heads as to their response to Hurricane Sandy and the impact the storm had to their agencies and particularly to Jamaica Bay. The meeting was a great forum for discussions and questions as to how the ecology and infrastructure of the park fared during and after the storm.
The first speaker was NYC DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland and he spoke of the great challenge the DEP faced in keeping the waste water treatment plants running in the face of such a huge storm surge. The Commissioner stated that in a relatively short time the DEP was able to get all of their plants up and running and at the time of the meeting was able to state that all plants surrounding the bay were up to full treatment capacity. This is in stark contrast to adjacent municipalities that have had their sewage treatment plants down for months. Questions were asked as to whether the DEP would be taking additional steps moving forward to take additional steps to prepare for future possible storm events and the commissioner indicated that it was a process already underway.
Linda Canzanelli Superindentent of Gateway spoke next (her power point is available here. ) There was a great deal of interest as to how and when the parks service would fix the west pond. The good news is that the passage of the Sandy Supplemental bill should ensure funding is available for the needed repairs. Linda spoke of the tremendous damage that was found throughout the park and how Floydd Bennett Field was used as a staging area for much of the FEMA relief effort and how they used the parking field at RIIS park to assist in debris removal. She noted ,as did all of the speakers, how the natural areas seemed to fare much better in some respects than the man made structures.
Lenny Houston and Dan Falt of the US Army Corps gave an interesting presentation of a number of projects the corps has underway, how the restoration projects fared during the storm and some of the projects, such as beach replenishment that they will be undertaking as a result of the Sandy Supplemental Bill . Their presenation can be viewed here.
The final speaker of the night was Vennetia Lannon the NYS DEC Region 2 director. She revealed the various reponses that her agency was involved in as a result of the storm . From pumping out oil tanks for residents in distress to monitoring air quality in various areas to creating expedited permit process for homeowners seeking to make emergency repairs the agency was fully focused on the storm and its aftermath. Venettia’s presentation can be viewed here.
Overall it was a very informative evening and one that seemed to lend itself to a vigorous discussion on a number of topics. The presentations were very thorough and should be reviewed–see the links– in order to get a better understanding of the varous topics discussed. The Ecowatchers will be working to ensure that Jamaica Bay and its damaged ecological resources receive their fair share of funding and feel strongly that the stakeholders need to be involved in the plans for the reconstruction moving forward
January 26 2012
Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers receive Honorary award from Rockaway Greybeard’s for their continued work in protecting Jamaica Bay. The award was presented by Bryan Williams senior anchorman at channel 4 news.
DecembeR 11 2012
POST SANDY UPDATE-Super Storm Sandy has had a tremendous impact on the entire Northeast and Jamaica Bay and the immediate surrounding communities were perhaps ground zero in terms of its direct hit. Every member of our organization has suffered severe damage to their homes and businesses in the shape of several feet of tidal flooding. In some cases these homes have been knocked down or floated away. We are all working hard and making progress every day and to an individual have all indicated that they would rather live no where else. The Bay has taken a huge hit as well. Fuel oil and debris were deposited in large volumes into the bay during and immediately after the storm. Thanks to the large tidal rise that occurs inJamaicaBay, 5-6 feet twice a day, the fuel oil sheens have dissipated and the waters seem to appear much clearer and cleaner to the eye. The debris in large part has been deposited on the three islands of the bay as well as along the shoreline all throughout the bay. In addition, and perhaps most upsetting, was the breaching of both east and west ponds in which large portions of the retaining berms have been washed away and the fresh water released. This has resulted in both ponds becoming part of the salt waters of the bay. The fantastic product of the visionary Robert Moses, of large fresh water ponds situated within the middle of a salt water estuary, has been wiped out over night. We are planning for a Jamaica Bay Task Force meeting in mid January and will release the date once the particulars and speakers have been arranged. We look forward to hearing from the National Parks Service as to their overall assessment of damages to the Jamaica Bay Unit and their plans in moving forward. Funding will be absolutely necessary and we are eager to hear how the secretary of the interior will fund this recovery effort of the “Jewel” of this national park and we stand willing to assist in lobbying our elected officials to assist this effort. _________________________________________________
October 21 2012
Nitrogen –the cause of salt marsh loss
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers have been arguing for years that the primary cause of the salt marsh loss in Jamaica Bay has been the high nitrogen loading that the bay experiences. Recent scientific studies seem to becoming to the same conclusion . The most recent article can be read HERE
October 17 2012
Oysters Discovered Growing in Jamaica Bay !!!!!!
Members of the Ecowatchers have discovered at least 15 oysters, perhaps even more, growing in Shad Creek about one half mile from the location of an oyster cage test location. It appears that the oyster spat, from those oyster stored in the cages , has settled at the end of the creek on various types of substrate, including stone, brick wood and even fiberglass, and grown for a period of time that appears to be at least two years in some cases. This is a huge development and is to date the first documented cases of oysters reproducing in Jamaica Bay. The discovery was made by Richie Lair as he was observing the bottom area ,adjacent to the support poles for the local fishing club. Considering the small size of the cages this amount of recruitment and survival rate appears to be extremely encouraging. Additional photos here.
October 8 2012–Blackwall/Rulers Update
Black wall and Rulers Bar Restoration Project has just now seen the completion of Phase 1-Sand Placement and is ready for Phase 2 planting and seeding during the spring 2013 season.
October 4th 2012
OIL SPILL IN JAMAICA BAY !!!!
On the afternoon of Thursday September 27th there was an oil spill involving the waters of Paerdegat Basin, a tributary of Jamaica Bay. This spill occurred from a construction operation that National Grid was conducting in which they were attempting to fill an old 20 inch unused gas main with concrete slurry in an attempt to fill it. The gas main ran underneath Paerdegat basin terminating at the corner of Seaview Avenue and Paerdegat avenue north. As the slurry was admitted into the pipe from the Bergen avenue side of the basin it traveled east thru the pipe and pushed a liquid material called “gas condensate” out of the pipe ahead of the slurry mix causing it to spill out onto the street at Seaview avenue and into an adjacent storm drain. This drain carried the product out onto the waters of Paerdegat basin. While an oil spill of any kind is a concern this situation presented a much more compelling concern. Apparently this type of gas condensate was taking out of use many years ago due to its very high PCB concentrate. This oil spill has much more serious contamination overtones as it now involves a PCB release. PCB’s are a hazardous cancer causing compound that does not break down in a natural setting. The big question will be has National Grid ,in addition to spilling 1200 gallons of oil , created a toxic mess in the shoreline sediment ? This is very upsetting as Paerdegat basin , long one of the worst water quality areas of the Bay, has recently seen hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades to the CSO retention center and the shoreline restoration. The DEC is monitoring the situation and overseeing the cleanup. Substantial fines should be forthcoming for this harmful impact that National Grid has created.
October 2 2012
Great Article documenting the recent Volunteer effort
Read “DEFENDING THE MARSH“ BY SUSAN LEE—
September 25 Seed Harvest Completed !!!!!
Mission Accomplished!!!!–The trailer shown here is loaded with the harvested seed heads from the two weeks worth of effort to collect enough spartina stalk to be able to obtain a net volume of 225 pounds of seed for next springs planting. This was a tough job and coordinated by the Ecowatchers and the Littoral Society in which volunteers spent hours using sickles to cut and and package the stalks. Under the pressure of a two week window of opportunity before the seed is no longer viable this was a critical component of the project to create the two salt marsh islands and it is a credit to all of the volunteers who came out that we reached our goal !!!! Big Thanks to all and hope to see you all at the planting sessions next spring !!
SEED HARVESTING BEGINS !!
After receiving word from marine biologists with the ACOE that the spartina seed within Jamaica Bay was ready for harvest the Ecowatchers and their volunteers set out to collect seed which will be ultimately be used for next years planting at Black Wall Marsh and Rulers Bar Marsh. This effort was coordinated with the American Littoral Society and will be ongoing for the next two weeks. THe goal is the collection of 25o pounds of seed. It was a great start and we hope to have continued good weather for the remainder of the harvesting period.
More Photos from the day here
Black Wall Island Project-UPDATE
At 9 am today pumping of sand onto Black Wall Island began. This is an effort to create 22 acres of restored wetlands in the heart of Jamaica Bay.
Army Corps prepares to start pumping sand at Black Wall Marsh Project !!
Army Corps Contractors are now working to place dredging equipment at Black Wall Marsh for the next phase of Wetlands Restoration in Jamaica Bay. This Project will see 22 acres created at Black wall and 12 acres of wetlands created at the adjacent island of Rulers Bar . These two once healthy areas have been reduced to small fragmented marsh “Hummocks”. Once the pipeline is in place sand will start flowing to create the proper elevation base for next years planting.
August 10 2012
Next Jamaica Bay Wetlands Marsh Restoration Project needs Community Volunteers !!
The Ecowatchers are looking for volunteers for the next phase of Marsh Restoration projects in Jamaica Bay. The Rulers Bar/ Black wall islands project will involve a large volunteer community effort. The project will see sand pumped by the Army Corps of Engineers during September and October to create the elevation and planting base. During this time seed will be collected by volunteers, probably during the second week of September, from varous location around the bay. This effort will be done by volunteers working with the agency partners of the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service,the NYS DEC, the NYC DEP, the Ecowatchers and the Littoral Society. It is an opportunity to take part in a project that will have a huge impact on the future health of our bay by recreating two marsh islands that have existed in our bay for hundreds of years and have recently experienced habitat loss. The work will include working in teams to cut off the tops of the spartina marsh with shears and sickles and collecting that top portion that contains the seed in bags and tubs for shipment to a bio firm for their processing and growing out of the seeds into plugs for planting in the spring of 2013. Interested parties can send an email to email@example.com
July 17 2012
Big News For Jamaica Bay-
NYC and NPS announce colloborative agreement to manage Jamaica Bay and adjacent city and state parks in order to create one “seamless” park experience. The goal is to create a Conservancy which will draw in Donor Philanthropist’s who will fund numerous upgrades and projects in the park. The Central Park Conservancy and the Golden Gate Bridge Park are two notable examples that are being pointed to as models for this plan. The Ecowatchers have been involved with the initial discussions and plans on this concept and feel that if enacted with local stakeholder input could lead to a world class park that would help to protect Jamacia Bay for future generations and would provide funding for the various restoration projects needed. You can read more about this exciting development here.
May 31 2012-Yellow Bar Restoration Update
On May 31st members of the Army Corps led a tour of the yellow bar marsh restoration project that is nearing completion. Present were members of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers,the American Littoral Society, National Parks Service, NYS DEC, and the NYC DEP. The progress to date is very impressive and the 45 acres of restored wetlands will be a huge boost for the ecology of the bay. This had been a great example of a colloboration of government agencies and local environmental groups all working together to achieve a common goal.
Gateway Pipeline Update !!
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) that will discuss the environmental impacts of the Rockaway Delivery Lateral Project involving construction and operation of facilities by Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (Transco) in Queens andKings Counties,New York. The Commission will use this EIS in its decision-making process to determine whether the project is in the public convenience and necessity.This notice announces the opening of the scoping process the Commission will use to gather input from the public and interested agencies on the project. Your input will help the Commission staff determine what issues they need to evaluate in the EIS. Please note that the scoping period will close on June 25, 2012.
Date and Time
June 12, 2012
7:00 pm EDT
Aviator Sports & Events Center
June 13, 2012
7:00 pm EDT
Knights of ColumbusRockaway Council 2672
Read the full FERC notice here
CORMORANT ISSUE IN JAMAICA BAY
May 9 2012
Read More Here
2012 EPA Environmental Award
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers (JBEW), on April 27th, received a very prestigious 2012 National Environmental Quality Award from the Environmental Protection Agency at A reception held at its headquarters in Manhattan.Each year in April, the EPA honors a select number of individuals and organizations in all of its regions nationally. The nominating categories are non-profit organizations, environmental or community groups, business and industry, environmental education, media, and federal, state, local or tribal government or agency- for their efforts to improve the environment.New York’s 9th congressional district falls into EPA Region 2 which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. The JBEW were nominated by Congressman Bob Turner in February citing their tireless efforts” to protect the quality and integrity of our environment”.This year marks the first time in ten years that a community group from the 9th congressional district has won this prestigious award. According to the EPA, to be selected for the award the group or individual must significantly contribute to improving environmental quality during the prior year. They must also demonstrate a high level in the award category, create unique or location -specific benefits, and produce results that are sustainable or reproducible, or increase public involvement in environmental action.The JBEW were founded by its president Dan Mundy in 1998 with a mission to preserve, protect, enhance and restore the 25,000 acres encompassing Jamaica bay, the largest open natural space in New York City.In accepting the award Dan Mundy thanked Congressman Turner “for the outstanding job in reaching out to the community and environmental groups around the bay to try and find out the needs of the bay and what he can do to help”.
***BORROW PITS- UPDATE—
The Ecowatchers have worked to help Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder craft legislation which would prohibit the dumping of contaminated material into the “borrow pits” of Jamaica Bay. This legislation, if passed, would ensure the end to a thirty year ongoing battle by environmentalists to prohbit the Port Authority from using a loophole in current regulations to place the contaminated fill from the NY/NJ harbor deepening projects into the deep area of Jamaica Bay . This contaminated material is prohibited ,due to its contamination, from being placed in federally regulated waters but the loophole currently allows its placement in state controlled waters. The Port Authority has safe alternatives for the placement of this fill but in an effort to save money has proposed to use the waters of Jamacia Bay. This is a hard to comprehend when you consider that Jamaica Bay,a national park, has been noted as an Estuary of National Significance and one of the most important migratory flyovers on the east coast. In addition it is a nursery for hundreds of species of fish and reptiles and this plan would see the contaminants work there way into the food chain where it would ultimatley be consumed by the many people who feed on the fish they catch in this area. Environmentalists who have reviewed the proposals to use the borrow pits are convinced that this will lead to Jamaica Bay becoming another “love canal” and we believe that this legislation will prohibit these types of proposals once and for all. You can read more about the legislation here.
The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge has often been called the “Crown Jewel” of this National Park and the reason for this are the two freshwater ponds that the visionary Robert Moses had built over 50 years ago. The West pond is extremely accessible to visitors with the walking trail that rings its perimeter and provides stunning views of the many varied bird species that are drawn to its fresh water supply as well as breathtaking scenes of the bays wetlands with the manhattan skyscrapers as a backdrop. This irreplaceable resource is now threatened. The drain pipe for the pond ruptured this winter. The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers were the first to note and report this. The pipe remained broken for a few weeks and in that time the salt water of the bay filled the pond to the point where the salinity rate of the pond is the same as the bay–in effect eliminating it as a fresh water source for the thousands of shore and migratory birds. This situation must be immediately corrected by fixing the broken pipe and draining out much of the salt water to allow for fresh water to refill this area. At this time the National Parks Service has no funding to correct this situation and the Ecowatchers are asking concerned residents to call Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrands office to request assistance.
Gateway/Rockaway Pipeline Update
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers have filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission- FERC- as an interested party to the Rockaway pipeline and this results in notification by FERC to our organization for all documents and updates filed for this project. Listed below are the numerous links that individuals can use to find out more information on this proposal.
Transco Williams webpage— http://www.energy.williams.com/Rockaway
Transco Williams-contact toll-free information phone number, 1-866-455-9103 and e-mail address pipelineexpansion@Williams.com
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)- Docket PF09-8 http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/File_list.asp?document_id=13986331 (for current documents related to this project )
FERC site to register to receive updates on this project – http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/eregistration.asp
Transco Williams will host two open house presentations:
The April 24th Open House will be from 7-9 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus 333 Beach 90th Street, Far Rockaway, New York, 11693.
April 25th Open House will be from 7-9 p.m. at the Aviator Sports Complex, located within Floyd Bennett Field.
February 23, 2012
Gateway Pipeline Controversy
The proposed natural gas pipeline that has been in the headlines lately has raised a number of concerns. This pipeline is described as necessary to augment gas supplies to both Brooklyn needs as well as that of Rockaway and Breezy Point residents. The proposed pipeline will tap into the Transco Williams Pipeline that runs parallel to Rockaway and is under the sea floor about two and a half miles off shore. The new line will run perpendicular to the existing line and come ashore in Rockaway near Fort Tilden and then run under the sea bed of Jamaica Bay exiting on the Brooklyn side where it will run north to a hanger in Floyyd Bennet Field, which is part of Gateway National Park. Here one line will continue north up Flatbush Avenue and another smaller line will return to supply Rockaway and Breezy point.
Aside from the hazard concerns, that some have raised of a pipeline incident involving an explosion, the following are some of the questions being asked of this project:
1) Why has there been no opportunity offered on the part of the National Park Service for the public, and the very involved environmental groups working in the area to be made aware of this plan and to hold meetings and comment on its merits before it was made an act of congress.
2) During the various meetings that residents were asked to attend in which they were put into groups and asked for input in developing a vision for the park why was no mention made by the NPS that a portion of the parkland was going to be “alienated” and given over to a corporation .
3) How does this particular situation impact the future decisions for this National Park? If a portion of the park can be given over to, in this case, a large corporation without any notice or input what future changes will be made to the park lands with similar lack of public participation.
4) If funds will be made available to Gateway National Recreation Area (GNRA), which encompasses Staten Island and New Jersey lands, will those funds be spent at Floyyd Bennet Field, which is desperately in need of funding for improvements? Or will those funds be spent at the other areas within GNRA? Will the funding go directly to Park improvements ie bike paths, restoration projects, other projects that will increase the visitor experience or will it go into Personnel expenses, salaries, etc in which case no changes will be noticed at the park.
5) While the portion of the pipeline that runs under the bay will not disturb the bay bottom due to the HDD –Horizontal Directional Drilling, process that will be used this is not true for the over two miles of ocean bottom which will be ripped open to form a trench to bury that pipeline in the ocean. How much Environmental impact will that have and will it impact the “critical habitat, as described by the State DEC, of the Rockaway Reef.
Many more questions will be raised and this is now slated to be a topic at the April 4th JAMAICA BAY TASKFORCE MEETING to be held at the wildlife refuge on Crossbay Blvd .
FEBRUARY 14 2012
NYC WETLANDS STRATEGY–document
NYC has developed a “WETLANDS STRATEGY DOCUMENT” to lay out a compehensive plan to achieve the goal of “no net loss” of wetlands within the city limits. This plan is a result of the NYC wetlands transfer taskforce work and one in which the Ecowatchers participated and supported. The Wetland Strategy concept is one which will see NYC leading the nation in terms of long term protection of its natural resources. You can see our submitted comments here.
Thursday February 2, 2012
Pumping begins at Yellow Bar Marsh Project !
Today at 3:50 pm the Dredge Vessel “ Dodge Island” arrived in Jamaica Bay with a hold full of clean sand, that had been obtained from the open ocean Ambrose channel approach area off the coast of Rockaway, and hooked up to the Pumping Barge that is currently located in Jamaica Bay just off of beach 127 street in rockaway beach. The sand in the hold of this vessel in now being pumped over one mile thru the 30 inch submerged pipeline that is depositing it on the northern section of yellow bar marsh island. The Army Corps of Engineers are spearheading this 16 million dollar project to restore over 42 acres of wetlands to this critical area that has seen a huge salt marsh loss over the last decade. The Corps are working with the NYC DEP, the National Parks Service and the NYS DEC. The results of the collobaritive effort will have a huge impact on the health of this bay! The Ecowatchers have worked to bring our newly elected Congressman, Bob Turner, and State Assemblyman, Philip Goldfeder, up to speed on this critical effort and are pleased that both have pledged their support to this project as well as the overall protection and preservation of the bay and will be working with us to continue these highly successful restoration efforts! The Yellow Bar Project was featured on NY 1 and can be viewed here.
January 19 2012
FOUR SPARROWS MARSH—UPDATE ON THREATENED DEVELOPMENT
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers attended and offered comments at last nights meeting of Community Board 18 which addressed the latest plans for the four sparrows marsh area. The meeting was specically focusing on the ULURP request for the new plan to develop the area adjacent to the four sparrows marsh area . This would be the site of the current Toys r Us on Flatbush avenue. For those not aware the Four Sparrows marsh area it is an area of extremely critical ecological value consisting of 65acres of salt water marslands and upland tree area. Last year NYC EDC (Economic Development Corporation) rolled out a plan to pave over and develop this area that was NYC parkland . Many of us assumed that this area could not be developed as it was protected under the “forever wild” statue –as all of the city parklands are supposed to be. While the city itself had designated this area parkland and even placed a forever wild sign on it they came up with the very disingenious scheme that stated that because the area was never “officially” mapped as forever wild that it was unfortunately not protected. This created a huge opposition that seemed to be going nowhere until Senator Carl Kruger was indicted for corruption and a portion of it involved his actions in pushing for the development at the Four sparrows site. Last nights meeting saw EDC display a much scaled down version of development that for the most part left the four sparrows area alone except for a 60 foot wide area that will run from flatbush area back to the water which will be used for ” some parking but mostly as a buffer area with trees and plants” according to EDC. The meeting was well attended by members of the environmental community. The Ecowatchers spoke of the huge loss of critical salt water marsh that Jamaica Bay has experienced, and that how currently we are working hard to procure funding to continue the marsh restoration efforts underway and that it was very difficult to understand the previous plan to destroy one of the last large tracts of healthy wetlands area of the bay. We expressed our appreciation for the new plan that would basically leave almost all of the four sparrows marsh area untouched but we suggested that community board 18 should with hold any further support for any development at the adjaccent area until they were able to secure the “official” designation for the four sparrows area as protected and “forever wild”. It seemed the board is intent on protecting the remaining four sparrows marsh area and hopefully they will follow thru on their promises to ensure it is officially protected.
Lets hope that they are sucessful before another devious politician sets his sights on it.
December 22 2011
SALTWATER MARSH RESTORATION–NEXT PHASE BEGINS !!!!!!
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers are pleased to announce that the next phase of the Marsh Restoration efforts in Jamaica Bay have begun!! At the time of this posting tug boats are moving dredge pipes into place in the western portion of Jamaica Bay adjacent to the eastern side of Ruffle Bar. This will allow the Army Corps of Engineers to pump the sand needed for this project onto the Northern Portion of Yellow Bar Marsh where it will be used to create 40 new acres of marsh land . This area is extremely degraded and this project will be a big plus for the bay. It is something that we have been fighting for for quite some time. The 16 million dollar project should be a big shot in the arm to the salt water marshes in this area of the bay and hopefully save this marsh island that has been carbon dated to over 1200 years old and noted for the tremendous life that it supports!!
The following notice was released with the details for the placement of the dredged material :
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company will have the Great Lakes 107 barge (60′ x 30′) anchored in (PA) 40-35-10″N, 073-51-08″W about 130 yards east of Beach Channel LB 3 (LLNR 34400). A 30 inch diameter submerged pipeline will be installed between the barge and Yellow Bar Hassock, Black Wall Marsh, and Rulers Bar. The Derrick Barge MOBRO 1221 (144′ x 48′), Tug Bayou Dawn (70′ x 23′), and a raft of 30″ pipeline (800′x61′) will be on scene and lit as required by 33 CFR 88.15. The submerged pipeline will cross Runway Channel between The Raunt Channel Buoy 5 (LLNR 34645) and The Raunt Channel Buoy 6 (LLNR 34650). The top of the 30 inch pipeline will be at approximately 10 feet MLLW. Work hours are 7 days per week during daylight hours. The barge will be manned 24 / 7 once pumping begins in mid January. (First District LNM 51)
Sandy Hook Channel Dredging:
Dredging is beginning approximately 5 January 2012 between Sandy Hook Channel Lighted Gong Buoy 11 (LLNR 35155) and Lighted Gong Buoy 17 (LLNR 35175). The hours of operation are 7 days a week, 24 hours a week. On scene is the dredge B. E. LINDHOLM and attendant plant that will be lit at night and monitoring VHF-FM 13 and 16. After passing arrangements have been made mariners are requested to use extreme caution and transit the area at their slowest safe speed to create minimum wake. (First District LNM 48)
See More Photos of the Restoration Site Here
November 27 2011
Jamaica Bay Taskforce Meeting Highlights
The meeting was packed with a full room including many agency and elected officials or their representatives.
For those who could not make it the following are some of the highlights of the discussions that took place at the Nov 17 Taskforce meeting:
I) NYCDEP Oyster pilot project and Eelgrass plots and algae Turf Scrubber
DEP has a large bed of oysters in the waters of Jamaica Bay off of Dubis Point. They are encouraged to date on the growth they are recording and it is the first oyster bed in the waters of the bay that is not enclosed in a cage. In addition they have oysters growing on reef balls in Gerritsen Creek which are likewise showing very good growth rates. The question of survivability seems to have been answered the next question is can we get the oysters to reproduce and become self sustaining within the bay. Professor Levington of Stony Brook has shown that oysters will grow three times faster in the waters of Jamacia Bay than in all comparison sites,including out at shelter island. The Eelgrass plots will be expanded with the additional factor of sediment movement being factored in as some of the plots were buried by the sifting sands. The new plots will include up to 8000 plants. THe algae turf scrubber,located at the Rockaway plant, has proven to be workable and will be expanded and will be one more piece of the puzzle in removing the nitrogen loading of the bay.
II) ACOE Marsh Restoration –next phase–Lenny Houston reports that the next phase will be Yellow Bar Hassock which is the largest oldest section of marsh in the western portion of the bay. The Northern portion has seriously degraded and it is here where the corps will attempt to restore 40 acres with possible sand placement in February of 2012. If possible they will attempt to also place sand at Rulers Bar and Blackwall , located near the yellow bar project , in the hopes that natural recruitment will occurr and if not future plantings of Marsh plants can be done as well.
III) DEC presentation on the JFK SPDES permit
Vennittia Lennon , The new head of DEC region 2, introduced herself to the group and ,along with DEC reps Jean Occidental and Sebastian Zacharias , gave a brief history of the JFK SPDES history and current status. They than fielded questions from the floor. It was clear from the numerous questions that the environmental groups were aware that the port authority has 26 large outfall pipes that deposit all runoff from JFK , including over one million gallons of harmful deicing fluids every winter, directly into the waters of Jamaica Bay and that they wanted the state to finally take a more forceful approach to getting the port authority to adopt policies that are in place in many airports throughtout the nation where retention , reuse and recycling takes place. Some who spoke indicated that it appeared that there were two sets of rules enforced by the DEC . One for the small homeowner or business that is extremely strict interpretation of the law and the other for large entities such as the port authority who cause tremendous ecological damage and are giving a permit to do so. It was pointed out to the DEC that the clean water act has provisions for citizen suits to take place and that such may be the future should the DEC not fulfill their regulatory obligations to protect the waters of the bay.
November 17 2011
GOOD NEWS ON THE MENHADDEN ISSUE –ASFMC agrees to set limits and address overfishing !!!
As reported here previously the menhadden, known locally as bunker, issue has been one of grave concern. These oily fish that do not receive much attention have been nicknamed “the most important fish in the sea” by many environmentalists and fishermen. They form the base species in the food chain for almost every other large species of fish and used to run in schools that numbered in the millions. Their stock has dropped, based on information from the Atlantic States Marine Fishing Commission-ASMCF- over 88% in the last 25 years. This can almost be solely attributed to one corporation Omega Protein and their vast vaccum ship fleet. Yet last week due to overwhelming public comment the ASMFC finally decided to put the politics aside and agree to set catch limits in order to save this critical species. The comments in favor of such were over 91,000 compared to only 35 advocating that no action be taken. You can read more hear …and while this is great news we will have to watch to see that it is implemented and not turned back by the powerful corporate entities who have controlled the discussion on this issue for so long.
November 5 2011
BORROW PITS –SNEAKING BACK INTO THE PICUTRE????
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers participated in a troubling conference call ,with one of the groups involved with the “Dredge Material Management Plan” DMMP. This group works to develop ideas on options for use and placement of “dredge material” from the various NY/NJ Harbor deepening projects. Some of this material is “clean” material such as the sand used, from the Ambrose Anchorage area, for marsh restoration and beach replenishment and other sediment is highly contaminated and cannot be used for such purposes or even to be dumped out in the ocean as the federal government prohibits such due to the contaminant level. What we were informed is that –with more of the future dredging projects, including the passaic river and the van kull areas, containing dangerous toxins the discussion of where to place such sediment has taken an alarming turn. The old and previously rejected concept of using the “borrow pits” (see here for a history) of Jamaica Bay has been once again been put forth as a possible option by NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) as well as the Port Authority. This outrageous idea of dumping highly contaminated sediment into the deeper areas of Jamaica Bay has been proposed and rejected before. That rejection took the form of hundreds of bay enthusiasts, and elected officials, turning out to speak out against a Port Authority plan that would dump millions of cubic yards of sediment ,that is so contaminated that the federal government prohibits its placement in the vast waters of the atlantic ocean, into the contained waters of Jamaica Bay. These toxins would ultimately work their way into every portion of the food chain of this estuary and we will vigourously oppose any such plan. The Ecowatchers will keep all posted of this ominous threat. Just makes you wonder what type of environmental “neighbor” we have in a Port Authority that ; dumps millions of gallons of harmful deicing and anti icing fluids into the bay each year, proposes that the entire northern portion of the bay be destroyed thru their runway expansion plan, and proposes that we dump massive amounts of toxins, including pcb’s and heavy metals , into the waters of our bay !!
October 27 2011
Good News For Jamaica Bay !!!
Mayor Bloomberg ,Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar, and EPA Region 2 head Judith Enck hosted a joint news conference at which they signed an agreement to ensure that their respective levels of government, as well as their agencies, would here after work in a collobaritive effort to protect and preserve Jamaica Bay. The Mayor called Jamaica Bay ” perhaps the greatest natural treasure lying within the borders of any city in the within any city in the nation.” We could not agree more and are pleased to finally see Jamaica Bay gettiing the recognition that it deserves as an environmental jewel that needs to be preserved for future generations .See the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers interviewed by NY 1 about this development here as well as the New York Times article covering this event.
Port Authority Harmful Deicing Fluids subject of DEC investigation and water quality report –
October 15 2011
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers submitted comments regarding the water quality monitoring report that was recently completed by the NY/NJ Port authority at jfk. If you were not aware JFK ariport has 26 outfall pipes , many large enough to walk thru, that discharge all runoff from the airport tarmacs directly into the bay untreated. This includes harmful deicing fluids that take the oxygen out of the water and in some cases make it impossible for fish to survive. In the 2009/2010 winter they had at least 750,000 gallons of this fluid dumped directly into the bay. In addition this testing has revealed that toxins including heavy metals are also included in the runoff from the airport. Many airports have now adopted practices where they recapture the deicing fluids and runoff to treat and in some cases reuse. THe port authority refuses to do so and the state DEC , which is mandated under the clean water act to regulate these discharges has yet to force the airport to address these incredibly harmful practices. Considering that portions of the bay , including thurston and bergen basin are now not even meeting minimum criteria for dissolved oxygen it will be interesting to see if the DEC can finally get the port authority to take meaningful action. THe state has tried in the past but the Port authority has resisted and in some cases has tried to pass the buck saying that they are not responsible for their tenants, the airlines, which is a ridiculous position considering they are in charge of the airport. The Port Authority’s position on this issue, and their failure to take meaningful steps to address it, appears to be just another example of their disregard for not only the incredible natural resource that Jamaica Bay is but their duty to act as a responsible partner as the largest neighbor to this National Park.
Ecowatchers Advocacy Efforts—
October 1, 2011
The Ecowatchers had a busy September with a number of meetings scheduled to continue to advocate for the resources and restoration needed for the bay and to oppose the dangerous JFK airport expansion plan. The following is a summary:
September 14—Spoke with Colonel Boule and joined the ACOE tour of Jamaica Bay which highlighted the great success of the Elders East and West Marsh restoration projects.
September 19 met with Gateway national recreational area superintendent Linda Canzanallo to discuss the ongoing and future restoration projects as well as the airport expansion plan.
September 21 met with Army Corps., the NYS DEC, and NYC DEP to discuss the next phase of marsh restoration projects in Jamaica bay.
September 20 community board 14 presented Rebuttal presentation to the RPA airport expansion plan after which the board voted to oppose any expansion of JFK runway into the waters of Jamaica bay
September 29 met with Senator Schumer’s staff, at his Manhattan office in the am and then with senator Gellibrand’s staff, also at their Manhattan offices in the pm. Both offices brought up to speed on the various issues ongoing in Jamaica bay and the concern of the environmental community over the airport Expansion plan
The Ecowatchers realize that one of the most critical components to achieving goals set is to have the political representatives and the agencies infomed and involved in regards to the issues affecting the Bay.
Harmful algae bloom affects the Bay !!
September 1 2011
THe photos below show the greenish white water of a harmful algae bloom that developed in the bay this past August (2011). This bloom started in the western portion of the bay in the shallow waters of the mudflats off of “terrapin trail” (at the wildlfie refuge). The shallow waters laden with nitrogen and heated to temperatures in excess of 95 degrees F ,due to the heat wave, saw the bloom start and than expand out across the western waters of Jamaica Bay adjacent to Broad Channel. This water was anoxic with Dissolved oxygen readings of less than 1 mg per litre. Numerous dead crabs and fish could be seen and the sea gulls in the picture are feeding on their carcasses. Numerous complaints were made by local residents as the sulfur smell spread on the wind. This condition lasted a few days until it dispersed. This is an indication of the problems of high levels of nitrogen loading that the bay is experiencing and the recent nitrogen agreement reached with the city should help to address. However it underscores a point that the ecowatchers have been making for quite sometime and that is how critical the deep portions of the bay are as they act as heat sinks and refuge areas during times of heat waves . Recently “certain” agency representatives have started to bring up the issue of the bays borrow pits once again. These deeper portions that were created by dredging activity many years ago have attracted the interest of those who would like to fill them with contaminated fill from the nyc harbor deepening project. This fill costs up to 65 dollars per yard to send to upland facilities and could be sent into jamaica bay for as little as 5 dollars per yard. Multiply this by millions of yards and you get the picture. THe plan of attack would of course be to cloak it in science as a benefit to the bay. We have fought back these attempts before and will continue to in the future. But beyond the threat of contaminated fill many in the scientifitic community think that if we could return this bay to reflect its image in the 1600′s we would increase flushing action. What they do not realize is that you cannot return all aspect to that period of time such as the long lost tributaries that used to feed into the bay and the current nitrogen loading that factors so significantly in the blooms and low dissolved oxygen issues.
Great Article on Jamaica Bay in the NEw York Times!!!!!
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT !!!!!!!!!!!
On Monday June 27th the Nitrogen Agreement between the City of New York and the State DEC was Finalized! This agreement was the result of the Clean Water Act Lawsuit CWA brought by the Ecowatchers working with the NRDC, NY/NJ Baykeeper and the American Littoral Societey. The Announcement by the DEC finalizes a seven year long battle to get the NYD DEP to upgrade the four waste water treatment plants that release into the waters of Jamaica Bay. The agreement will have huge and lasting positive impacts for years to come and will mandate:
1) over $100,000,000 in plant upgrades that will ultimately reduce nitrogen out put into the bay by 50%
2) set aside $15,000,000 for Marsh restoration in the interior of Jamaica Bay.
3) add an additional 5 water qualtiy testing sites throughout the bay
4) Dramatically reduce the incidence of trans shipments of sludge material being brought into Jamaica Bay for treatment.
Read the full Ecowatchers Press Release Here
JUNE 15 2011
The Ecowatchers and the Stony Brook Rewearch team of Dr Jeffrey Levington and Mike Doall raised one of the four oyster cages that were left in over the winter in the waters of Jamaica Bay. The cages were quite encrusted with marine growth and proved a challenge to raise. The one cage inspected on this date showed a 25% rate of survivability with much of the mortality rate appearing to be a result of sediment build up within the cage. The remainder of the cages will be raised and inspected and the cages may be raised slightly to address the sediment issue.
JAMAICA BAY TASK FORCE MEETING
Ecowatchers throw switch to start up new CSO facility!
—On May 12 2011 the new state of the art $400,000,000 DEP CSO facility was placed on line. At the ribbon cutting ceremony, held on the facilities grounds on Ralph avenue, Commissioner Holloway cited the Ecowatchers long term efforts to address waste treatment pollution in Jamaica Bay and asked that Dan Mundy SR perform the honors of throwing the switch to officially start up the plant and put it into operation. This plant can hold up to 50 million gallons during a “rain event” which in the past would have overwhelmed the sewage treatment plants causing untreated sewage and floatable debris to be deposited into Jamaica Bay. Now that water will be held in the new facility, with all types of debris filtered out and removed, and than after the rain event is over the water is pumped back over to be treated at the treatment facility. This will have a tremendous impact on the health of the bay and the Ecowatchers commend the DEP and COmmissioner Holloway for this accomplishment. You can read more about this facility here.
What is the Most important fish in the sea ? According to Bruce Franklin’s book (The most important fish you never heard of ) it is Atlantic Menhaden . He makes a compelling case that it is the key component at the bottom of the food chain upon which almost every other major species of fish on the eastern seaboard is dependent. In addition they have played a critical role for centuries in filtering the waters of the bays and estuaries from the algae blooms that are found there. Recent studies indicate that their population has been reduced by over 88% in the last 25 years and are being over fished by the corporate giant OMEGA PROTEIN – if interested you can read more here.
Outraged Environmentalists and Bay Enthusiasts speak out !(Link to Ecowatchers presentation)
The April 7th Jamaica Bay Taskforce meeting saw a packed house meeting of over 150 people who turned out to discuss their very strong opposition to the recent plan by the Regional Planning Association to expand JFK airport by filling in and paving over the wetlands of Jamaica Bay within the protected boundaries of a National Park. Read more here including some of the news accounts of the night.
Congressman Wiener Speaks out against airport expansion
Ecowatchers on NY-1 news – rebutting JFK airport expansion plan –see story here.
Access link to real time monitoring station located in Jamaica Bay to see accurate and current data on: water temp, dissolved oxygen, chrorophyll, turbidity, wind speed, air temp, etc.
Numerous environmental groups outraged over the recent proposal to fill in and pave over Jamaica Bay to facilitate runway expansion forwarded a letter of opposition to this concept to Port Authority Executive Director Christopher Ward on March 17 . You can read the letter here
Breaking News— A major threat has developed that threatens the future of Jamaica Bay as the Port Authority unveils a plan for a massive expansion of JFK Airport Runways. A Report released January 27 2011 ( report here http://www.rpa.org/pdf/RPA-Upgrading-to-World-Class.pdf specifically look at pages 150-154 ) has shocked and stunned Environmentalists . Destruction of wetlands and critical habitat unprecedented in a National Park . This proposal would fill in a large portion of the northern part of Jamaica Bay covering over salt water marsh lands , vital mud flats, and deep pits of the bay that are known to play host to some of the most significant concentrations of Striped Bass and Weakfish in the Northeast.The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers have issued a press release at this time and are encouraging all concerned to contact their representatives . –see press release–http://jamaicabayecowatchers.org/?page_id=107
Ecowatcher’s Letter to Secretary of the Interior :
Read our letter informing Secretary Salazar of the recent threat to the bay and our request for his assistance and the letter of opposition that was sent to Christopher Ward, Executive director of the Port Authority, from dozens of environmental groups
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________CONTACT THE JAMAICA BAY ECOWATCHERS AT — MUNDYFIVE32@MSN.COM