Archive for the tag 'gateway national recreation area'

Ryan Visitor Center

Jamaica Bay remains one of New York City’s most important natural jewels, a network of marsh islands and waterways spanning from Rockaway Inlet and Sheepshead Bay to JFK International Airport.

Tonight, you can get involved and learn more about preservation and restoration efforts at the park during the Jamaica Bay Task Force Meeting at Floyd Bennet Field’s Ryan Visitor Center.

The group is a coalition of community groups, non-profits, city and state agencies and other local stakeholders. More often than not, the group meets in Queens, so a meeting at Floyd Bennett Field is an opportunity for Southern Brooklyn residents to more easily attend.

The group will discuss oyster bed restoration projects, an update on endangered features of its landscape like the marsh islands and the West Pond, marine debris removal and a progress report on the budding Science and Resilience Institute that will one day bolster research and preservation efforts in Jamaica Bay.

The meeting is today at 6:30pm, at the Ryan Visitor Center (50 Aviator Road, off Flatbush Avenue).

Members of the 25 strong cat colony on Plumb Beach (Photo by Lisanne Anderson/Flickr)

You didn’t actually think we’d get through this story without a headline pun did you?

The National Park Service (NPS) has agreed to give more time to cat enthusiasts to remove a sizable colony of feral cats from the Plumb Beach federal parkland, and is even considering offering manpower and assistance in their relocation.

Doug Adamo, the chief of Natural Resource Management for Gateway National Recreation Area told Sheepshead Bites that he’s been inundated with calls and e-mails about the 25-cat colony they planned to remove this Friday, with nearly as many people supporting the plan as opposing it.

But they also heard directly from the folks who’ve been caring for the cats, building what he called “cat condos that were constructed out of wood and cardboard,” and who fed, vaccinated and neutered them. As a result of their discussions, Adamo said Parks has agreed to hold off on dismantling the colony for another week, until June 20, to allow the group to explore long-term relocation options.

“Nothing’s going to happen on Friday. We did get in touch with the people that were taking care of the cats. We decided we would give them an extra week to try and place the cats, or there are a couple of options that they gave me that they were looking at,” said Adamo.

Adamo said NPS could potentially offer staff to help trap the animals and remove the debris, as well as a vehicle to transport them a short distance. He said the cat caretakers are looking at facilities in Maryland or upstate New York, among others.

“They’re saying they will help and they don’t want them to go to the shelters and they want them to go to places where they have more assurances that it will go to a permanent home, which would be a good win-win solution to the situation,” said Adamo.

feral-cat

The sign posted last week.

Contrary to the claims of cat lovers, Adamo said NPS never had plans to kill the cats. In most cases, colonies are dismantled as soon as they’re discovered and the cats are trapped and brought to local shelters for adoption, and just about every cat they’ve captured in the past has been assessed as adoptable by the shelters.

Normally there is no notice to the community, but he said that when NPS employees discovered the colony sometime in the last month, they were struck by its size and apparent maintenance, as well as the condition of the cats.

“In this case we noticed it was a large colony and they were healthy and cared for. We thought maybe we’d give them a chance to work with us on this and it appears that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

Despite flack from feline fans, Adamo maintained that removing the colony was essential to the parkland’s habitat.

“It’s our responsibility in the Parks Service to protect wildlife,” he said. “It’s a very difficult situation, especially here in New York, next to densely populated areas where non-native cats – and they’re all non-native – are always going to be coming into the park either by people bringing them there or by just wandering in.”

Even though they’re fed by humans, the cats still pray on area wildlife. The problem is even more urgent on Plumb Beach, a protected nesting ground for migratory birds including some endangered and at-risk species

“As land managers and natural resource managers for the park, [we must] do due diligence in protection of the wildlife,” said Adamo.

It doesn’t appear the decision has fully satisfied the cat enthusiasts. One of the colony’s caretakers, Nancy Rogers, has launched a petition online saying that the additional week now being granted is insufficient.

“The caretakers are willing to find homes for these cats but need more than the one week now allotted to accomplish this difficult task,” Rogers writes in the petition’s description. The petition launched yesterday afternoon and already has 193 supporters, and simply says “Stop the removal of the Plum Beach Cats.”

feral-cat

The above sign went up at Plumb Beach late last week, warning parkgoers that the National Park Service will be moving to “dismantle” cat colonies on the federal parkland this Friday, June 13.

(UPDATE [6/11/2014]: NPS  is working with the caretakers and has granted extra time to relocate the animals.)

Plumb Beach is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, a stretch of federal parkland that’s home to countless migratory bird species and other protected wildlife like horseshoe crabs. With jurisdiction over the parkland split between federal, state and city authorities, no one is ever sure who’s responsible for maintaining infrastructure or cleaning up the garbage - but at least they figured out who is going to get rid of the cats, right?

But that’s got cat lovers rankled. Apparently, locals have been caring for a sizeable colony of about 25 cats, feeding, vaccinating and neutering them. They’re crying foul that these cats are being targeted, and that their caretakers have been given such short notice.

Lena S. wrote to us yesterday:

This is a posted flyer around the area that says the this Friday (in just 3 days) They will come in and euthanize all the stray cats that are living by belt parkway (Plum Beach area)! There are people here that were taking care of these cats for years and they are taken all neutered, well fed, vaccinated against rabies. This notice is unbelievably cruel and with only a few days notice! There are currently 25 cats there and they want to mass euthanize them.

Please help and promote this, we’re trying to save the kitties, they deserve to live there just like any other animal.

Marina G. wrote:

All these cats are spayed, neutered and fed. This colony has been around for many years. If there is any ecosystem at that beach, its between the rats and the cats, as locals call the beach “rat beach.”

Animal protection groups are trying to find a way to at least get more time to relocate this colony. The notice was posted 5 days ago.

On the heels of the cat abuse stories as well as our national outrage over Russia’s disposal of their cats and dogs during the Olympics, this may be a relevant read

The text of the sign does not say anything about putting the cats to sleep or otherwise “disposing” of them, although it’s certainly a possibility. In case you can’t make it out, it reads:

Feral cat colonies are prohibited on Federal property.

To ensure the health and safety of visitors and to protect habitat for native species including shorebirds, small mammals and reptiles this colony will be dismantled on Friday, June 13th.

We encourage those that have created this colony to remove it and the cats prior to that date.

Thank you for your cooperation in maintaining the health of our ecosystems.

Sheepshead Bites has reached out to the National Park Service to confirm that they posted the notice, and what methods will be used to “dismantle” the colony, including whether or not the animals will be exterminated. We’ll update this post when we receive a response.

Source: CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities / Flickr

To commemorate Earth Day, join the Jamaica Bay Unit of Brooklyn and Queens to help spruce up your favorite places in Gateway, this Tuesday, April 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sites include but are not limited to Floyd Bennett Field, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Frank Charles Park, Hamilton Beach Park, Canarsie Pier and North Channel Bridge.

Anyone can come and groups are welcome. Registration is required. So let’s hop to it and clean up the Earth — it’s the only one we’ve got.

To register, email volunteer coordinator Keith White at Keith_White@nps.gov. To learn more, call (718) 318- 4340.

Aerial shot of Floyd Bennett Field. Source: Wikipedia

Aerial shot of Floyd Bennett Field. Source: Wikipedia

Join American Littoral Society naturalist Mickey Maxwell Cohen and discover birds, early wildflowers and hidden World War II military bunkers in the developing maritime woodlands of Floyd Bennett Field, Sunday, April 20 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Meet at the Ryan Visitor Center. There will be at least two miles of walking, so prepare for moderate exertion. Reservations are not required and anyone is able to attend.

To learn more, call (718) 318- 4340.

A Douglas A-4B Skyhawk Attack Jet inside of Hangar B. Source: Gateway National Park

A Douglas A-4B Skyhawk Attack Jet inside of Hangar B. Source: Gateway National Park

Children on spring break are invited to attend “Flights of Discovery,” this Wednesday, April 16 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Floyd Bennett Field’s Ryan Visitor Center, where they can learn about airports and planes of the past.

Kids can design their own pilot wings and receive a passport to adventure. Then, visit Hanger B where Floyd Bennett’s Historic Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP) volunteers are restoring vintage planes.

Anyone can come and reservations are not required.

To learn more, call (718) 354-4606 or check out Gateway National Park on the web.

A Ranger educates the public at the Ryan Visitor Center. Photo by Ned Berke

A Ranger educates the public at the Ryan Visitor Center. Photo by Ned Berke

Two exciting, historical presentations will be taking place this Sunday, December 15 at Floyd Bennett Field’s Ryan Visitor Center.

  • Famous First Flights: Jamaica Bay has had its fair share of famous first flights taking off and landing from its shores. Join a park ranger from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for a slideshow about these flights, and many others.
  • Civil War or Civil Rights – A Century of Change: Explore the major events of the civil rights continuum during the pivotal years from 1863 to 1963, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Anyone can come to both events — reservations are not required. To get there by public transportation, take the Q35 bus [PDF].

For more information, call (718) 354-4606.

Photo by Ned Berke

Photo by Ned Berke

Sorry for the short notice, but if you’re looking for a fun and educational activity for your four- or five-year-old this afternoon, head on over to the Golden Age Discovery Room in the recently restored Ryan Visitor Center at Floyd Bennett Field from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Home to New York City’s first municipal airport, children can learn all about airplanes during a fun story teaching session. The event is free — anyone can come — and reservations are not required. To get there by public transportation, take the Q35 bus [PDF].

For more information, call (718) 354-4606.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The company seeking to run a gas pipeline under Floyd Bennett Field and build a meter and regulating station in a historic airplane hangar there commissioned a report that found a .2 percent chance the planned facility would be flooded, even amid rising sea levels.

The Williams Transco pipeline company’s report came in response to an April 4 letter from the New York Department of State seeking reassurance that the station couldn’t be breeched after the Federal Emergency Management Agency updated its flood maps, post-Hurricane Sandy.

“Infrastructure in general was severely impacted by Sandy and NYDOS would not be adequately addressing coastal policies if we did not try to ensure that new infrastructure projects were able to withstand coastal impacts, including flooding,” Laz Benitez, an NYDOS spokesman said in an email.

Keep reading to find out Transco’s response.

Source: CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities / Flickr

Volunteers are wanted to help celebrate the upcoming Earth Day by helping to clean up marine debris at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, April 20 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can get there via public transportation on the Q52/53 buses.

The cleanup will require moderate physical exertion, so be prepared to flex those muscles. You should dress for the weather — wear long pants, long sleeves, sturdy shoes and bring a pair (or more) of work gloves.

Anyone can help out and groups are welcome too. Registration is required — call (718) 318-4340 to sign up.

Next »