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.
July 30 2014
Councilman Eric Ulrich Tours Jamaica Bay with the Ecowatchers
NYC Councilman Ulrich tours Jamaica Bay and surveys the recently created wetlands as well as the remnants of Hurricane Sandy in the form of Marine Debris that is still located throughout the bay!!
Full day of photos here
July 18 2014
QUEENS BOROUGH PRESIDENT MELINDA KATZ TOURS JAMAICA BAY
It was great to see the Queens Borough President Melinda Katz taking time out of her busy schedule to tour the wetlands and islands of Jamaica Bay. Since taking office she has shown a keen interest in helping to preserve and protect Jamaica Bay. The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers ferried the Borough President to recently restored wetland islands in the bay and gave her an update on the numerous projects underway in the bay. see addtional photos from the day HERE.
June 16 2014
Sunset Cove to receive funding thru Department of Interior Resiliency Grants!!
Big news for Jamaica Bay today as Secretary of the interior Sally Jewel flew into NYC to announce 102 million dollars for 13 projects in 11 northeast states to fund projects to make shorelines more resilient in the face of climate change. The largest funded project was the Sunset cove wetlands restoration project which will receive $4,085,000 to restore the shoreline of the southern portion of Broad Channel island. The project will see the creation of wetlands along the shoreline, a rock and oyster revetment barrier , a dune berm with a walking trail and an upland forest.
Secretary Jewel works with local school children to lower oyster cages into the waters of Jamaica Bay
More photos from the day can be seen here
JUNE 1 2014
BLACKWALL ISLAND WETLAND PLANTING PROJECT !!
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and the American Littoral Society teamed up for another great day of restoration work in Jamaica Bay. Over 70 volunteers were ferried out to the recently created Blackwall Island to plant over 5000 plants in a single day !!
This island is the second island to be restored thru the local groups coordinated volunteer approach !!
You can see more photos of the day Here .
May 13 2014
THE SONY TEAM AFTER A DAY OF PLANTING ON THE ISLAND
Great day with the Sony Environmental Team out in Jamaica Bay Today !!
The Group from Sony came out to help with the planting of Spartina Plants on Rulers Bar Island. The island was restored last year and today was an effort at replanting select areas that saw sand dunes pile up over the winter and bury some of the wetland plants. It was a great day and the team from Sony planted over 5000 plants on the island! This will be a huge help in stabilizing the shoreline edge of this critical wetlands island. Tremendous enthusiasm and effort was on display and the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and the Littoral Society extend our deep thanks to this group for all of their efforts they put forth. There is a large PHOTO LINK HERE to the days work.
May 10 2014
Local Theory on Salt Marsh is Finally Accepted !!
For years ( since 2000 ) the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers have submitted that the primary cause of the salt water marsh loss in Jamaica Bay was the tremendous increase in nitrogen loading ( from 18,000 pounds a day to 50,000 pounds a day ) that occurred when the previous practice of ocean dumping of the waste treatment sludge was halted and the city of New York began processing the sludge at waste treatment plants where the discharge from the process was piped into the bay and was extremely high in nitrogen. Agencies and Scientists alike disagreed with this theory and spoke of impacts such as jet ski waves and dredging as possible main causes. The science has been coming in and it has been slowly changing their minds and now we have ( see the attached article here) an agreement at the state DEC level that we have been correct and this correlation of nitgoen spiking and marsh loss is not a coincidence. Once again proving the invaluable impact that local environmentalists play in these discussions.
May 7 2014
Task Force Meeting Summary
Last night’s task force meeting was well attended and saw four interesting presentations with an opportunity for Q and A at the end of each. The powerr point presentations will be linked to this page shortly . Below is a brief over view of the topics and discussions
1) Jamaica Bay Science and Resiliency Center –Peter Ventura gave an overview of progress to date on the Jamaica Bay Science and Resiliency Center that is now being formed and will ultimately have a physical location on the shores of Jamaica Bay. Location is yet to be determined but both Floyd Bennett Field as well as Rockaway Beach have been mentioned. The Foundation has received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation as well as a grant from the Department of the Interior. Once established it will be a collection point for all data that is produced from the numerous studies that are being conducted in Jamaica Bay as well as a collaboration of scientists working out of a number of local universities who will study Jamaica Bay and the challenges it faces in the face of global warming and seal level rise. The information obtained can then also be used in coastal communities around the Globe. The Role of the stakeholder advisory council was discussed in detail with many in the audience eager to see an opportunity for local input to play a critical role as it has been so important to date in identifying problems in the bay. Peter indicated that this was a high priority of those who are setting up the structure of this program. View Peter’s presentation here
2) NYCDEP Paerdegat Basin Natural Area Park update–John Mclaughlin-gave an interesting presentation on the restoration project that has been years in the works and only recently completed at Paerdegat Basin. The area has both a masssive CSO holding tank that can hold up to 50 million gallons of rain water as well as a large restoration park that surrounds it. The tanks hold rainwater that in the past would have caused sewage spills into Jamaica Bay and now allow it be held until after the rain event and then processed and treated. The area is now used for those who would like to enjoy the walking trails along the restored shore or thru the recently created maritime forest as well as those who now can enjoy kayaking the waters of the creek. Overall an excellent project and one that is already producing a positive impact on the waters of Jamaica Bay.
SEE JOHN’S PRESENTATION HERE
3) National Parks Service Update -Dave Avrin gave a detailed report on where the park is post sandy including the news that:
A) Fort Tilden has been cleaned up and reopened,
b) that the huge problem of Marine Debris is now the subject of three party talks between the park, the Ecowatchers and the Littoral society with a joint effort being formed to remove the hundreds of derelict vessels and debris deposited by the storm ,
c) That the Gateway Management Plan will be out within 2 days and that will allow the West pond public scoping sessions to take place regarding how to best fix the breach in the pond. A consultant has been retained and the time frame presented is now:
Early June—Agency Coordination
End of June Public Scooping meetings to begin
Late winter 2015–Public Review of Draft EA
Sping 2015 FONSI (finding of no significant impact) to be signed and work to begin
See Dave Avrins full powerpoint presentation HERE.
D) Jamaica Bay Greenway Coalition for the DOT Jamaica– Kyle Kozar gave an overview of the efforts to date to connect the current greenway bike and multiuse pathways in areas where they do not currently exist. The greatest challenges are the Rockaway’s , where there is no current pathway and thru Howard Beach where there is a current plan to incorporate a connecting path into the Spring Creek restoration Project. That plan has some community support as well as some community opposition in Howard Beach and additional public meetings will be held to try and resolve this situation and to allow for a 22 mile loop around the bay . There will be additional meetings and opportunity for public input forthcoming
You can View Kyle’s Presentation Here
May 3rd 2014
Great Video of Jellyfish swimming in Jamaica Bay today–produced by briana reardon
April 26th 2014
EARTH DAY CLEANUP
Great turnout for the Earth day Cleanup in Broad Channel On April 26th !!
The event saw the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, the American Littoral Society, Broad Channel Civic Association, the NYC Parks Dept and the National Parks Service- team up to clean the shoreline at the southern end of Broad Channel Island. This area is immediately adjacent to a large wetland area as well as the Sunset Cove area which is designated to be a future restoration site. The Turnout was great including the boy scouts, (282) and a west point cadet team along with local families and their children. The shoreline was cleaned up and even large debris was removed and the area looks Great!!
April 1 204
Jamaica Bay Osprey Returns !!
Spring is here and Coley the Osprey has returned to Jamaica Bay. See the fantastic journey this bird makes each year before returning to his summer home in Jamaica Bay at the website here
HURRICANE SANDY MARINE DEBRIS THREATENS JAMAICA BAY WETLANDS!!
Disturbing presentation on the impact of Hurricane Sandy Storm Debris on the shoreline, islands and wetlands of Jamaica Bay !!! Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that no effort to address this critical issue has been made to date !!
Read Full Report Here
March 28 2014
Earth Day Cleanup !!!
February 15 2014
Members of Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers hike across a frozen Jamaica Bay to the recently created and planted Rulers Bar Island !!
(video composed by Briana Reardon )
February 12 2014
SENATOR SCHUMER SEEKS ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR JAMAICA BAY
The Ecowatchers have been working with the Senators office to seek to obtain funding for the Sunset Cove project and we are grateful that he is pushing the Federal Government to provide those funds!!
see full press release here
February 1 2014
Assemblyman Goldfeder passes bill in Assembly to protect Jamaica Bay !!!!!
Great news –now on to the Senate–read press release here
February 1 2014
Iceboats have not been seen on Jamaica Bay in over 10 years but reappeared with the recent “Polar Vortex”
More Photos and Video can be seen HERE
(Below video produced by Briana Reardon )
January 8 2013
Record Breaking Temperatures Freeze Jamaica Bay
Record breaking temperatures have frozen Jamaica bay see more photos HERE of the frozen bay.
December 25 2013
The Christmas 2013 sunset on Jamaica Bay is just another example of the unique beauty of this Bay!!
view the complete sunset shots here
DECEMBER 11 2013
(photo taken on 12/28/2013 along shoreline of Jamaica Bay)
On December 10th the NY/NJ Port Authority announced a new protocol for bird abatement at Kennedy airport in which they would shoot snowy owls found on airport grounds . On December 11th the Ecowatchers met with 25 members of the FAA and Port Authority on the separate topic of air traffic noise and flight patterns over Jamaica Bay in a meeting set up by Assemblyman Goldfeder. The Port Authority was confronted at the conclusion of that meeting with questions on this new policy regarding the Killing of snowy owls! They were challenged to emulate Bostons Logan airport where a catch and release policy was used. Immediately after the meeting a social media and online campaign was begun with our many allies to have this policy rescinded. We are pleased to announce that within 24 hours the port authority agreed to end this policy of killing the owls and institute one of catch and release. A big win for environmentalists and the beautiful snowy owls!!
The Ecowatchers have been documenting the Snowy Owls in Jamaica Bay this winter and more photos cam be viewed here
December 8 2013
Ecowatchers presented award at Littoral Society Dinner!!
It was a great night and a big thanks to Don Riepe, Elizabeth Manclarke and the crew at ALS for hosting a fantastic event!!
The event was reported in the Wave Newspaper as follows:
The American Littoral Society held their annual holiday fundraiser on Sunday, December 8th, in which Dan Mundy Sr. and Dan Mundy Jr. of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers were honored with the first-ever Citizen’s Coastal Conservation Award in recognition of their outstanding work preserving and protecting Jamaica Bay.
“It is an honor to be selected as one of the first recipients for the American Littoral Society’s first ever Citizen’s Coastal Conservation Award. The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers take great pride in our past accomplishments and in our working relationship with the American Littoral Society,” Dan Mundy Sr. said. “We are dedicated to the preservation, protection, enhancement, and restoration of the fragile ecosystem of Jamaica Bay and we accept this award in the name of all the stewards of the bay.”
Assemblyman, Phil Goldfeder presented the award and Councilman Eric Ulrich addressed the crowd of more than 140 guests at the American Legion Hall in Broad Channel. Among some of the guests were friends and supporters of the Ecowatchers and the American Littoral Society’s Northeast Chapter and Venetia Lannon, Regional Director of NYS DEC, Lilo Stainton of the NY/NJ Harbor Coalition, Nancy Barthold from the NYC Dept. of Parks and Recreation¦ and members of NYC Audubon, National Park Service, Nature Conservancy and CUNY.
The evening was a celebration of a long year rebuilding as a community post-Sandy and that was best illustrated by filmmaker Dan Hendrick, who showed a sneak preview of his upcoming documentary film “Jamaica Bay Lives.” The preview featured pre and post-Sandy interviews with Dan Mundy Sr., Dan Mundy Jr. and Don Riepe, Chapter Director of ALS’ Northeast Chapter.
Broad Channel boat captains, local youth from ALS’ Restoration Corps program and community members were also honored for volunteering their boats and labor as part of the Marsh Restoration Initiative, the first-ever community led restoration effort in a National Park. The Marsh Restoration Initiative is co-led by the Ecowatchers and ALS and resulted in the restoration of two badly degraded salt marsh islands in Jamaica Bay,Rulers Bar and Blackwall, which will continue to be maintained and monitored over the next several years.
December 4 2013
Update on Last nights Jamaica Bay Task Force Meeting!
Tonight’s Jamaica Bay Task Force meeting saw a packed room of environmentalists and bay enthusiasts gather at the wildlife refuge to hear a number of interesting presentations and discussions highlighting the intense focus that now surrounds Jamaica Bay. The Resounding theme was that there is a lot of positive funding and plans coming down the pike for Jamaica Bay and that it is good news but that it is CRITICAL that the local groups be kept in the loop as the history in this bay has been that the identification of problems , the advocacy to fix them, and the best concepts to address them have often come from the local groups that are out and about on the bay everyday.
A brief summary of the detailed presentations goes as follows:
Dave Avrin NPS –Chief of Natural Resources gave an update on the status of the Breached West Pond. Numerous groups including the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, the Littoral Society and the Audubon Society have advocated for quick action on the part of the NPS to fix the breach and restore the west pond to a freshwater water source. The groups have presented a plan to incorporate some tidal flow with a newly defined freshwater boundary as a conceptual plan for the park. The pace of progress for many has been much to slow. Dave indicated that a firm was being hired to produce and Environmental Assessment which would allow for public input. In addition he indicated that funding was available for repair work but that it had to be used by 2015 as this was how the Sandy appropriations was structured. The time frame at this time is:
- December 2013 – Agency Scoping Letters
- End of January 2014 – Public Scoping Begins
- Mid-February 2014 – Public scoping meeting to obtain input for alternatives, identify issues and concerns
- March/April 2014 – Conduct Alternatives Workshop with stakeholders
- July 2014 – Release Draft EA
- Mid August 2014 – Conduct Public Meeting
- September – Close of Public Comment Period
- December 2014 – FONSI signed and released to public
The case was made by attendees that the issue was critical and the pace to date was to slow and that there was concern that the time table could jeopardize the projects funding. Dave indicated that the park was committed to addressing this and would work to ensure that once an acceptable action was decided on that it would be implemented.
Dave then touched on the Marine Debris issue. Since Sandy hundreds of destroyed boats , floats and marine debris has been deposited on the shoreline and islands of Jamaica Bay. The Littoral Society has spent many hours documenting this and has procured a grant in order to fund the removal of this debris but obtaining a permit from the NPS has taken so long that it has threatened to eliminate this possibility as the grant has time constraints. It was pointed out to Dave that hundreds of boats were removed in the past thru the volunteer efforts of the Ecowatchers and the Littoral Society but at this time the lack of a permit from NPS has put this program on hold. Dave indicated that the NPS was holding internal discussions at this time and were hoping to move soon on this issue.
New NPS Superintendent—Jen Neresian the new Superintendent of Gateway introduced herself to the crowd and gave a brief history of her service in the NPS. She has worked in a number of the National Parks throughout the different geographical regions of the country. She recognizes that she is coming to Gateway at a very exciting time as the newly minted collaboration between the city of New York and the Department of the Interior has created a number of interesting developments including the new Science and Resiliency Center as well as the Conservancy. She readily grasped the often opined fact pointed out by local environmentalists that this park, entirely impacted by development and manmade activities, must be managed in a different way than those parks of a larger size and more remote location such as Yellowstone or Yosemite. It was encouraging to hear her energy and outlook for the future of this park and we look forward to working with her on the number of upcoming restoration projects that we are looking at.
Jamaica Bay Science and Resiliency Center. While there was much fanfare and media surrounding the announcement that the Rockefeller Foundation was providing seed money to start this state of the art academic foundation on the shores of Jamaica Bay no details had really been available as to the goals and structure of this institution. Bill Solecki the interim start up director spoke of the plans and hopes of this group to bring together academics from around the area as well as from other countries to study climate change and resiliency while using Jamaica bay as a model for implementation. Perhaps most encouraging was Bill’s comments on how important and critical it was to include local input and knowledge into the policy and research performed by this organization
Daynan Crull from the Mayor’s office of long term sustainability gave and overview on the SIRR commission report that was created in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. This report has compiled issues of concern for the various areas around the city that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy and has identified a number of different proposals to enact to help areas become more resilient for future storm events.Many of the plans within this report such as oyster revetments, oyster Reefs and wetland islands were submitted by the Ecowatchers and are great concepts for creating Resiliency Strategies moving Forward. Daynan indicated that there was an expectation that they would be working closely with the new Science and Resiliency Center to determine which options to implement and how. Review presentation here
Note the last slide on the presentation has email contacts for those who would like to submit comments!
Sunset Cove Restoration Proposal
Dan Mundy of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers gave a brief overview of the history of this site. In addition the current partnership that is working at this time to procure a Department of Interior Grant that would allow for the development of this site thru an exciting plan that would see:
- Wetlands Restoration
- Oyster Revetment
- High Marsh
- Dune/ Berm Protection
- Coastal Forest
- Walking Trails
- Spectacular views
- Boardwalk out of the wetlands for education of young children
YOU CAN VIEW THE POWER POINT FOR THIS PRESENTATION AND PLAN HERE
November 1 2013
Jamaica Bay Symposium Report
The Jamaica Bay Symposium held over a two day period, October 18 and 18, at Kingsborough Community College was a fantastic success and presented a number of presentations over the two days that addressed Jamaica Bay issues as well as Global concerns in the age of sea level rise and global warming. The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and the Littoral Society teamed up to give a presentation on their recent efforts to coordinate the reconstruction and planting of the two wetland islands of Rulers Bar And Blackwall island in Jamaica Bay. The full presentation can be seen here.
In addition the entire two day series of presentations can be viewed here.
The amount of interest in Jamaica Bay at this time is tremendous and it is great to see after so many years of struggle by the various environmental groups to have it recognized for the unparalleled urban ecological asset that it truly is !!
October 10 2013
PBS NOVA Documentary —-aired last night and featured the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and their efforts to restore the wetlands of Jamaica Bay and the fact that in addition to the critical ecological role that they play in this Estuary ,these wetlands also play an important role in their ability to dissipate storm energy. The one hour documentary discussed efforts around the world to combat rising sea levels and it devoted extensive time to Jamaica Bay with some great video of the bay and recent restoration projects. You can view the entire video here.
If you are short on time the Jamaica Bay Portion comes on at 38:45 minutes into the video ( you can drag the time frame cursor to that section )
August 12 2013
Jamaica Bay Resieliency Center and Jamaica Bay/Rockaway Park Conservancy Creations Announced!!!!
Today there were two big announcements at a press Conference Hosted By the National Parks Service and NYC Today. Mayor Bloomberg and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the Creation of a world class science center –the Jamaica Bay Resiliency Center that will be focused on climate change and ecological issues affecting the bay . The Resiliency center will be located with in the Gateway Park Lands on Jamaica Bay most probably at Floydd Bennet Field and will for the first time collate all studies being conducted in the bay and look to create guidance for future projects needed within the bay. The Conservancy will be headed by Tom Secunda who will look to bring new opportunities for the park in terms of linking the adjacent city and state parks to Gateway and to identify corporate and philanthropic sponsors to help fund park upgrades. The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers feel that both of these concepts can be very positive developments for the bay IF the very involved local stakeholders and environmental groups who have been active for so long in working to preserve the bay are included in planning for the parks future AND IF the primary focus remains protecting the natural beauty and ecology of the bays waters and lands.
Read the full press release here.
RULERS/BLACK WALL ISLAND UPDATE
All 86,000 spartina plugs have been planted !!–and already in the photos below you can see the great progress in bringing this wetland island back to its former presence.
Click on the link below to see more photos from July 24th!!
The Ecowatchers have long advocated the planting of plugs as the primary restoration method as it seems to be the most productive and the one most likely to guarantee success. It is early yet to determine but this island which was entirely planted with spartina plugs on two foot centers seems to be thriving. The growth rate is remarkable to date. Below is a photo and link to additional photos of Black wall island which is immediately adjacent to Rulers and where another method was employed which was seeding. So far the growth rate,as you will see, is notably less and yet we will know more within the next few months. The seeding method is cheaper but may not ultimately be as successful—-Time will tell!!!!
Black wall island July 24
July 5th 2013
Tidal Inundation of Rulers Bar
Just a quick video of the twice daily tidal inundation that takes place on rulers bar island . In addition you can see the progress made to date with much of the island covered in plants at this time–click on link to see video
June 20th 2013
Wetlands Project Update–Seeding Black Wall Island!!
The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers transported the heavy equipment needed for the seeding operation at Black wall island. Below is the equipment barely fitting onto the dock/ makeshift barge used for the process.
Dan Mundy Standing in front of seeding process underway on Black wall island !
The entire 20 acres of this island is now seeded which is a different approach then has been underway on rulers bar island where the plan has seen spartina plugs planted. The separate approaches will allow for studies to compare the growth rate and success rate of the two different islands
June 2nd 2013
Restoring Rulers Bar Wetlands Island!!
(click of photo below for more pictures from today !!)
Great progress today in the effort to restore Rulers Bar Wetlands island with over 160 volunteers !! This is a coordinated effort between the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers and the American Littoral Society. Thanks to the team of volunteers who came out and to the boat captains of the six vessels that ferried the large group out to the island. This was no small feat and took alot of coordination and hard work. No doubt it appears worth it as the hundred and sixty volunteers planted thousands of plugs before the rising tides forced us off the island !! A great day was had by all!!
June 6 2013
JAMAICA BAY TASK FORCE MEETING
THURSDAY JUNE 6, 2013—-Summary
Great meeting with a large turnout!! Quick Summary of topics discussed and points raised:
1) Barbara Brown of the Eastern Queens Alliance presented a startling presentation of the Port Authority’s plans to expand the 4L/22 R runway and in the process cut down over 700 trees in the adjacent idlewild park. This is not a proposal to expand the runway into the bay, we have so far defeated that outrageous proposal last year, but it is a plan to widen and lengthen these runways. It is hard to comprehend that the Port Authority can continue to operate without any attempts to engage the envrionmental and neighborhood groups that are so active and visible. They continue to be the single biggest threat to the health of the this National Park !!
2) Rulers Black Wall restoration project has been a very big success to date in not only recreating these critical wetland island but in the huge numbers of young people who have participated in this community planting project! We are truly creating the next generation of environmentalists with this type of volunteer involvement!
3) Elizabeth Manclark’s presentation on Hurricane Sandy Storm debris that is throughout the bay was a call to arms. It is now over 7 months since the storm and we need a plan from the National Parks Service on how they plan on removing this debirs which is not only an eyesore but also an environmental threat.
4) Glen Phillips on the NYC Audobon presented a very interesting conceptual plan for the repair of the West Pond,. This center piece to the park was damaged when Hurricane Sandy cause the south side of the pond berm to breach into the bay. The Audobon plan would incorporate a fresh water component as to ensure the park continues to attract the bird species it is so famous for and at the same time incorporates a resiliency component that recognizes global warming and sea level rise. The berm would stay open, with a archway bridge over it allowing the salt water of the bay to flow in and include the creation of additional wetlands on the inside of the berm as well. Great way to start the discussion of the best way to “build it back bettter and smarter”
5) Gateway update by Dave Avrin of the NPS- indicated that the Sandy appropriations bill has allocated funding which will help to not only repair the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy but to also create some huge new opportunities for the park. There were many who want to see these repairs and projects start soon and according to Dave the funding is mandated to be spent within three years. Hopefully that will preclude the “study it to death” concerns of many.
MAY 18 2013
PLANTING SPARTINA AT RULERS BAR BEGINS!!!!
Today the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers began planting the spartina plants on Rulers Bar Island which will grow into a productive wetlands marsh. The day was a huge success with a great group of volunteers who worked hard at planting the thousands of spartina plugs on the island which was created last year. We will continue with this effort this up comming weekend , May 25,and 26th. Working with our partners at the American Littoral Society we are working to restore the 12 acres that was formerly a wetlands island and which was lost over the years due to the high levels of nitrogen loading that the bay experienced. NYC is now greatly reducing that nitrogen loading and these restored wetland marsh islands will help to keep Jamaica Bay one of the most important estuaries on the east coast!!
view slide show of the day here
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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