Archive for the tag 'gateway national recreational area'

gateway cleanup thesca org via dailynews

Teens from the Student Conservation Association. (Source: via

Teenagers, banded together in the Student Conservation Association (SCA), picked up shovels and handcarts and began cleaning up Jamaica Bay and other parts of the Gateway National Recreational Area. The New York Daily News is reporting that the volunteer teens have been spending their precious summer vacation days making a difference for the environment with some hard work.

The SCA, founded in 1957, is a nonprofit group that culls teenagers looking to join conservation efforts across the country. The latest effort had teens work in an area devastated by Superstorm Sandy as part of the Sandy Project.

The Daily News described the length and nature of the project, as well as the reaction of the teens involved thus far:

The Sandy Project started July 8 and will end Aug. 15. The 50 students have been working 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, and wrapping up each week with environmental lessons on Friday.

“We encourage them to see more of the parks and beautiful places around the city,” said [Diane] Stanley. “They have been to several talks about conservation and sustainability, and we also sent them to the Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Aquarium and Botanical Garden.”

Students have also been working on clean-up crews at Sandy Hook, N.J., and Staten Island.

“There was no lack of interest from the students,” Stanley said. “In fact, we had to turn some people down. To be able to get pay to do positive work after a hurricane from which many of them suffered the consequences, was something really special.”

Their work has already helped Rocky Point Marsh, Jacob Riis and Frank Charles Park in Howard Beach, among other areas in Jamaica Bay and other damaged areas in the city.

Great job to all the teenagers involved and keep up the good work.

A little duck walks around the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuse. Source: peterjr1961 / Flickr

A little duck walks around the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. (Source: peterjr1961 / Flickr)

The Obama administration is looking to transform Jamaica Bay and other parks located in urban areas, into hotspots for hiking, biking, boating and camping, putting them on par with the nation’s most popular national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. The Queens Chronicle is reporting that the US Department of Interior and the National Parks Service (NPS) announced a general management plan for Jamaica Bay and the Gateway National Recreational Area that would turn the area, especially the Brooklyn parts, into major hubs for outdoors activity.

The Queens Chronicle described some of the plans proposed by the NPS:

Among the ideas being proposed in the NPS’s preferred plan are increased opportunities for camping in and around the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and means of connection, such as bike lanes and trails, between sites around Gateway like Charles Park and Hamilton Park, which would also be eyed for “small-scaled” visitor centers that may include food and bicycle vendors — a plan proposed by the Parks Department to Community Board 10 in April that was shot down because board members wanted to see the park, notorious for being dilapidated and dirty, given an overhaul first.

Many of the drastic changes were proposed for parts of Brooklyn, such as Floyd Bennett Field, Plumb Beach and Canarsie Pier, and the Rockaways, where Fort Tilden would become a major hub for park activities…

The plan also includes suggestions for improving infrastructure, and dealing with the post-Sandy reality of flood risk. In the proposal the NPS outlines plans to construct new buildings to meet the flood elevation criteria set by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and build roads that have sufficient drainage and can be passable in a flood.

NPS’s management plan also calls for increased public transportation — including ferries and better train service — to the area to bring visitors in from Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn.

While environmentalists were pleased on the NPS’s plans to get people excited about the parks, Don Riepe, president of the American Littoral Society, cautioned that conservation should remain the top priority when it comes to the parks.

“My only concern is that I feel that there should be a major focus on protecting natural resources,” Riepe told the Queens Chronicle. “The recreation is fine. I think they should get their house in order. I’m asking ‘Who is going to manage it? Are the resources going to suffer?’”

Park of the Obama administration’s goal in pouring money into urban park environments is to get city kids to connect with nature.

The plan also stems from the Obama administration’s desire to pour more resources into federal parkland in or close to major cities — part of the White House’s larger plan to bring inner-city children to the outdoors.

In October 2011, then-U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Mayor Bloomberg signed the agreement in Marine Park, Brooklyn that allowed the two entities to coordinate management of Gateway, which was created in 1972 as an attempt to protect and restore New York’s coastal wetlands that had been severely damaged by industrial pollution during the previous century.

“We are asking ‘How do we connect urban populations to the outdoors?’” Salazar said in 2011. “New York may be the greatest opportunity we have.”

The Queens Chronicle laid out information for the public comment period and other open house meetings for the federal plans:

Public comment is being accepted on the proposal online at, where the entire plan can be downloaded and read. Open houses discussing the plan are scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 20 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Ryan Visitor Center in Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn and Tuesday, Sept. 10 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

“Bullet Points” is our format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Councilman Fidler Lays Out Green Vision For Coastal Protection: If anyone thinks a seawall will protect Southern Brooklyn from future Sandy-like tidal surges, they need look no further than Sea Gate to put that false theory to rest, Councilman Lew Fidler told Community Board 15 at their meeting last night.

“A lot of people think that you can just build a wall and that will solve all the problems. I suppose if you know people in Sea Gate, you can ask them whether or not that solved their problems,” he said.

Fidler added that the cost of erecting a seawall around the southern end of New York City would be around $5 billion, a hefty price tag for an uncertain solution.

Instead, Councilman Fidler, who said he has held and attended numerous City Council committee hearings on Superstorm Sandy and preparations for future threats, said the city should fight nature with nature.

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Photo by John Noble, courtesy of John Warren

A fascinating and revealing photo exhibit is being unveiled at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center in Queens next week, detailing Superstorm Sandy’s impact on the Gateway National Recreation Area.

The exhibit, dubbed, “Hurricane Sandy: Before and After,” will open on Sunday, January 27, between 3 and 5 p.m. It features photographs taken by National Park Service (NPS) employees in a large format, two feet by three feet, detailing Sandy’s destruction on the park.

“While these pictures demonstrate damage, the take-away message should not be one of doom and gloom, but rather one of resilience,” stated Superintendent Linda Canzanelli in a press release. “There is still a lot of work to do and some things have changed forever. But the park is reopening, the natural areas will rebound and park visitors will be welcomed back.”

The extensive photography undertaken by NPS employees was part of the greater recovery effort which also included clearing road, moving sand and moving trees. The effort to stabilize the area after the events of Sandy has been described as the largest incident response in National Park history.

If you’d like to see the exhibit when it opens on January 27, head over to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor center located at 1oo Cross Bay Boulevard in Queens. The exhibit will be open daily, free of charge from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., until the end of March.

Fort Tilden, before and after Sandy. Click to enlarge. (Source: NPS)

Six weeks after Superstorm Sandy struck the Gateway Recreational Area, a majority of the space remains closed, according to a New York Times report. The National Parks Service, which is in charge of the clean up, is facing an enormous task, clearing sand and debris from roadways, restoring drinking water and sewage treatment, and fighting mold breakouts in buildings where basements were flooded.

The National Parks Service has imported federal personnel from across the country to fill out and supplement Gateway’s staff, allowing for quick progress on the removal of sand and debris clogging the roadways.

The large crew faces tougher challenges than cosmetic ones like road clearing. Freshwater ponds in the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge were flooded with saltwater when Sandy’s storm surge etched a new inlet in the Bay, breaching the natural separation from sea waters. In Sandy Hook, a wastewater treatment plant and a drinking water system were both disrupted by the surging waters.

Also hampering restoration were the presence of thousands of first responders who used the area to stage recovery operations. Gateway’s superintendent, Linda Canzanelli, told the Times that, “Gateway became the epicenter for the recovery, and we had 5,000 rescue folks in Floyd Bennett Field and Miller Field. A lot brought in trailers and tents.”

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Anyone who has tried to visit Floyd Bennett Field since Superstorm Sandy rolled through more than three weeks ago has discovered that the site is no longer open to the public, turning into what appears to be a makeshift military base.

Well, it ain’t wartime on the Hudson, but the federal parkland is being used by the National Guard, FEMA, emergency response vehicles and more.

Reader Joe  Bonserio, a Bites reader and gardener at the park, sent us the accompanying photos taken last week that show some of the activity.

Many of the vehicles you see, including the ambulances, were brought in from around the country to assist following the flooding.

A spokesperson for the National Parks Service confirmed to Sheepshead Bites that Floyd Bennett would remained closed until further notice. All recovery activities at Gateway are being done through the Incident Command System, managed by FEMA.

The last time we can recall seeing Floyd Bennett Field hosting such a spectacle was after the September 11 attacks. We hope we never see it again.

Check out more photos of the activity at Floyd Bennett Field.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed a deal yesterday establishing a management agreement between the city and the National Parks Service for 10,000 acres of parkland in and around Jamaica Bay.

The deal, announced nine months after the intent was made public in October, establishes the framework for collaboration between the National Parks Service and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to promote access, establish research and education programs, and develop recreational opportunities in the park area, which includes Floyd Bennett Field and the marshlands and waterways around it.

(Video of the announcement is above. Note that this was originally a live stream, and the announcement does not begin until the 12:50 mark.)

The Jamaica Bay area is federal parkland, but jurisdictional lines have blurred for years as city and state infrastructure bleed into the park. Finger pointing between the patchwork of agencies and levels of government has long hampered improvements to the area, including squabbling over whose responsibility it is to make repairs to Plumb Beach – repairs that will soon be made after 10 years of community unrest as the sands washed away.

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SEAL! (Credit: Melissa Alvarez, Senior Project Biologist, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District.)

The following was sent to us by Dr. JoAnne Castagna, a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District:

As construction workers maneuver bulldozers and spread sand to restore the degrading marsh island, Yellow Bar Hassock in Jamaica Bay, their work is being closely observed by an area resident.

“For the past few months we’ve seen him on the site. He just keeps doing his thing,” said Melissa Alvarez, a senior project biologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District.

The resident Alvarez is referring to is a harbor seal who has been seen lying on the dredge pipeline that is delivering the sand and sunning himself as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers performs its work.

“I find it so amazing every time we construct one of these island projects how quickly wildlife will use this area.”

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The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Source: Flickr / Howard N2GOT (Howard Brier)

There is an old parable about the Holocaust. With a little tweaking, it translates quite well to the situation we face at Jamaica Bay today:

First they came for the starlings,
and I didn’t speak out because I needed a flight.

Then they came for the geese,
and I didn’t speak out because I needed a flight.

Then they came for the cormorants,
and I didn’t speak out because I needed a flight.

Then they came to shut down the wildlife refuge,
and why not, since there was nothing left anyway.

Well, folks, the bird Holocaust is coming to Jamaica Bay.

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Administrators of the Gateway National Recreation Area, Congressman Bob Turner and New York City Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined together with nature enthusiasts and history buffs over the weekend, celebrating the grand reopening of the William Fitts Ryan Visitor Center at Floyd Bennett Field.

The event capped off a three-year effort that saw the building’s interior – once an unfriendly mess of paint chips, splintered wood and decrepit infrastructure – painstakingly restored to its 1930 appearance, including beautiful art deco furnishings and detail work on the interior.

Check out our photos of the stunning new center, as well as photos from Floyd Bennett’s Hangar B, home of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Project.

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