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For Release: Friday, October 23, 2015
Reef Project Will Improve Fishing and Diving at Rockaway Reef


A new series of man-made reefs will be constructed off the south shore of Long Island to improve marine life habitat and bolster recreational opportunities for fishing and scuba diving, the Department of Environmental Conservation announced today.

Federal and state permits were recently secured for the Rockaway Reef project, and the first placement of materials is happening this week. “The deployment of these new reef building materials will recreate vital marine habitat essential for improving the health of marine fish while also providing benefits for divers and fishermen alike,” said DEC Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman. “We thank the Army Corps of Engineers for working with DEC to obtain these new permits and to ensure this economically important habitat restoration continues.”

Rockaway Reef, originally permitted in 1965, is a 413-acre area of man-made reefs located 1.6 nautical miles south of Rockaway Beach off Long Island. Under a previous reef permit, thousands of tons of rock, concrete and steel had been placed there over the decades creating important marine habitat. The most current permit had sunset in 1989, resulting in no new material being added to the reef, and recent reports had indicated much of the previously placed material had silted in or collapsed, degrading the habitat created.

Rockaway Reef is one of 11 sites managed through NYSDEC’s Artificial Reef Program, which was established to increase fisheries habitat and provide marine fish and other organisms additional opportunities for shelter and foraging.

Transco-Williams, the company associated with the Rockaway Delivery Lateral Pipeline Project, will pay for the $1.6 million project.

More than 450 sections of concrete coated steel pipe will be placed to expand the network of individual patch reefs throughout the Rockaway Reef site. These patch reefs will provide valuable marine habitat for popular finfish species such as tautog, fluke, black sea bass and scup, as well as for crabs and lobsters.

“I look forward to NYSDEC’s construction of man-made reefs on the southern portion of Rockaway Beach, which will bolster tourism activities, sustain a more well-rounded environment, and foster a healthy habitat for robust marine life,” said Congressman Gregory W. Meeks. “I thank the Governor for his ongoing efforts to bolster Rockaway Beach post-Super Storm Sandy and I look forward to continuing to work with him to enhance our communities.”

“The Rockaway peninsula is flourishing, and is now more vibrant and exciting than ever before,” said Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. “The addition of new reefs will contribute to this by attracting more divers and fisherman to the area while also protecting the water and keeping our environment clean, safe and healthy.”

“The creation of Rockaway Reef in 1965 was a landmark achievement in our efforts to protect coastal habitats and promote marine recreation activities,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “In reauthorizing this project, New York State has ensured our community’s continued stewardship of this vital ocean ecosystem. I give tremendous credit to DEC Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman, Transco Williams and, especially, the Broad Channel Civic Association for their leadership in these efforts.”

The addition of new reef building materials has also received positive feedback from local divers and fishermen. Dan Mundy, Jr. of Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, said, “The Rockaway Artificial Reef provides an amazing habitat for all types of marine life and a fantastic recreational destination for sport and commercial fishermen as well as scuba divers. The New York State DEC is to be commended for pursuing new permits and much needed enhancements at the site. When completed it will be a huge ecological benefit to this area and will provide additional recreational opportunities.”

The New York Artificial Reef Program is popular with many local fishermen and divers, and party charter boats. It enhances recreational opportunities and helps to support the local economy. Fishermen and divers who access the artificial reefs support local businesses through the purchase of fuel, bait and tackle, marine equipment, and by using for-hire charters and dive vessels.

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local theory on Cause of Salt Marsh is Confirmed !!


wetlands loss nitrogen

For over a decade the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers have put forth their theory that the high levels of nitrogen coming out of the waste treatment plants (over 50,000 lbs per day at its height) was the leading cause of salt marsh disappearance in Jamaica Bay. Scientific “experts” and agency personnel alike disagreed for years. Now with more and more scientific studies supporting this agencies like the NY State DEC are agreeing that we have been right all along. Just reinforces how critical it is to listen to local input from those who are out on the bay every day!! see the article below!!

Excessive nitrogen harming LI storm-buffering salt marshes, says DEC

Originally published: May 8, 2014 5:42 PM
Updated: May 8, 2014 8:18 PM

Excessive levels of nitrogen from wastewater, septic systems and other sources are increasingly harming Long Island salt marshes that provide protection from storm surges and flooding, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said yesterday.

In a new report, the DEC notes an “accelerated loss” of the coastal marshes over several decades.

The damage has been most significant on the South Shore and within Jamaica Bay, according to the report. In the Great South Bay, for example, the loss of marshes between 1974 and 2001 has been estimated at 18 percent to 36 percent.


While salt marshes are also threatened by development, wave erosion and other factors, the report singled out high nitrogen levels as causing the most harm.

Nitrogen from wastewater enriches the marshes to the point where they develop shallow roots and become unstable, keeping them from performing their natural function of reducing the strength of waves as they reach the shore, according to the report.

“The loss of tidal marshlands results in a direct reduction in coastal resiliency,” the report states.

The DEC recommends that New York State support an ocean outfall pipe at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in East Rockaway and sewer system extensions in Suffolk County as a way to reduce the nitrogen load on the South Shore.

The report warned that salt marsh restoration efforts will not be successful until nitrogen levels are reduced.

Both county executives on Long Island issued statements through the DEC backing nitrogen-reduction efforts. The report was released in advance of a series of meetings on Long Island water quality that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced last month.The four meetings, the first of which is Monday, are designed to solicit recommendations on groundwater protection. An action plan is to be sent to the governor sometime in June.

Christopher Gobler, a professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, said studies have shown that high levels of nitrogen weaken the salt marshes — a crucial storm buffer.

“We recognized during Sandy, some of the areas spared had some salt marshes,” Gobler said. “As we wait for the next storm, we want to make sure we have salt marshes for protection going forward.”

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Senator Schumer pushes for Federal Funding for Jamaica Bay !!

Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers have been working with Senator Schumers office to obtain funding for Susnet Cove in Jamaica Bay and are grateful for his support!!
Jamaica Bay Acted as Natural Barrier During Superstorm Sandy, Somewhat Softening Storm’s Blow
Department of Interior Grant Program Provides Opportunity To Use Federal Funds To Bolster Resilience
New York City is Seeking $17.5 Million for 5 Jamaica Bay and Rockaway Peninsula Projects; Group of Projects Represents First Major Jamaica Bay Restoration and Resilience Package
New York, NY – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced he is pushing the federal Department of Interior (DOI) to support five separate projects that will better protect New Yorkers against major weather events like Superstorm Sandy by making Jamaica Bay a more effective buffer against future coastal storms and bolstering resilience along the Rockaway Peninsula. These five projects – for which the Senator is seeking $17.5 million – are a key part of the City of New York’s official application to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grants Program, which will award more than $100 million in grants throughout the region affected by Superstorm Sandy. Superstorm Sandy demonstrated how critical Jamaica Bay can be as a natural barrier against storms, and Schumer is urging DOI, which oversees NFWF, to fund these five critical Jamaica Bay and Rockaway Peninsula projects.
“Superstorm Sandy wrought tremendous damage across the communities surrounding Jamaica Bay, but the damage may have been even worse were it not for Jamaica Bay’s natural ability to act as a shield against storms,” said Schumer. “Sometimes our best defense against Mother Nature’s wrath is actually Mother Nature itself, and these five projects will take what is already a natural storm defense and make it even more effective at protecting the homes and livelihoods of thousands of New Yorkers. These five projects are exactly what this grant program was created to fund, and I am urging the Department of Interior to give these the green light as soon as possible.”
“This grant money is critical to safeguarding one of New York City’s most amazing and productive natural assets,” said Daniel Zarrilli, New York City’s Director of Resiliency. “Jamaica Bay is a gift to all New Yorkers and Americans, and Mayor De Blasio, Senator Schumer, and the rest of the City’s leadership are fully committed and engaged in a comprehensive plan to protect the City’s natural assets and its residents.”
DOI’s competitive grants program is an exceptional opportunity to advance projects that enhance coastal resources and neighborhoods, not only to address serious long-term storm and flood mitigation issues, but also to help victims of Superstorm Sandy in Queens and Brooklyn communities surrounding Jamaica Bay rebuild in a more resilient and sustainable manner. Queens and Brooklyn communities surrounding Jamaica Bay were seriously impacted by Superstorm Sandy. Critical infrastructure and facilities were damaged, including extensive damage to homes, utility systems, park buildings, roads, piers, docks, waterfronts, parking lots and cultural resources.
The five projects Schumer is supporting to enhance the resilience of Jamaica Bay, the Rockaway peninsula, and its surrounding communities are:
·         Sunset Cove Salt Marsh and Maritime Forest Restoration
·         Rockaway East Resiliency Preserve
·         Spring Creek Salt Marsh and Coastal Upland Restoration
·         Jamaica Bay Head Of Bay Oyster Restoration
·         Jamaica Bay Bathymetric and Sediment Model
The Sunset Cove Salt Marsh and Maritime Forest Restoration will restore 6‐7 acres of salt marsh, enhance 4‐5 forest acres, and construct berms on Broad Channel Island in order to restore a vital ecosystem and promote make Broad Channel more resilient during future storm events. New York City is requesting $5 million from DOI for this project.
The Rockaway East Resiliency Preserve (RERP) is a dune-construction and beach habitat development project in Arverne, an urban area severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy. The project seeks to designate part of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area as a nature reserve and another part as a beachfront preserve. The proposed double dune would increase protection along the coastline and reduce storm vulnerability for adjacent densely populated areas. New York City is requesting $5 million from DOI for this project.
The Spring Creek Salt Marsh and Coastal Upland Restoration will restore and enhance 11 acres of salt marsh and 16 acres of coastal forest and scrubland in Spring Creek Park, where extensive marshland has been filled and remaining marshes are degraded by debris. These proposed improvements would improve the resiliency of the surrounding Queens and Brooklyn neighborhoods in the face of future storms and sea level rise. New York City is requesting $5 million from DOI for this project.
The Jamaica Bay Head Of Bay Oyster Restoration project will be located in the Northeastern end of Jamaica Bay and seek to establish a self-sustaining oyster population. This oyster population would filter the water, and the constructed oyster bed structure would protect the adjacent shoreline from erosion and future coastal storm surges. New York City is requesting $1.5 million from DOI for this project.
The Jamaica Bay Bathymetric and Sediment Model project would develop and test a model to illustrate and understand sediment transport in Jamaica Bay and its environs. The effort would be specifically designed to answer critical public policy questions regarding the impact of the marsh restoration. New York City is requesting $1 million from DOI for this project.
This group of projects is the first major federal funding package aimed at enhancing Jamaica Bay’s natural resiliency. This Jamaica Bay and Rockaway package is the most significant component of New York City’s grant application, which also includes other projects around the five boroughs.



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