Archive for the tag 'jamaica bay ecowatchers'

11846879996_d4e955f617_z

This week’s polar vortex, in which temperatures with wind chills dipped into the negative degrees, generated its fair share of grousing on social media, and news hype. It also brought about some stunning photos from locals of iced over windows and ice drifts on New York Harbor.

But the best set we’ve seen yet are a bunch of stunning, and chilling, photos of Jamaica Bay frozen over like on big ice skating rink. Dan Mundy, of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, whose Jamaica Bay photos we’ve featured before, struck out at sunrise to capture the beautiful and rare shots of the warm sun rising over the iced over Bay.

You can check out all the photos here, but we’ve selected our favorites to feature after the jump.

Check out the photos!

snowy2

Snowy owls are usually a rare and prized sight for birdwatchers, but this year Jamaica Bay bird lovers are the beneficiary of an unprecedented migration southward.

The knuckleheads over at the Port Authority sparked an uproar recently when they added the beautiful (and increasingly rare, as populations dwindle) snowy owl to their kill list, announcing open season on the Harry Potter-famed fowl for its shotgun wielding wildlife specialists. They shot down three of the birds at JFK Airport in a weekend before the outrage tilted the scales, and they changed policy to capturing and relocating the birds.

That means Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, which abuts the airport, is once again a wildlife refuge – so long as you’re not one of the seven other birds on the Port Authority’s kill list.

And that’s good news to Dan Mundy of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers. Mundy was out and about in Jamaica Bay today, and happened upon this snowy owl. Cool, eh?

snowy1

Source: Clean Ocean Action via the Queens Chronicle

Source: Clean Ocean Action via the Queens Chronicle

Local environmentalists were outraged at Liberty Natural Gas’s proposed plan to place a fuel port 20 miles off the coast of New York Harbor. The Queens Chronicle is reporting that Liberty argues that building the port will save New York and New Jersey residents $325 million per year.

The area surrounding Jamaica Bay, New York Harbor and the coast of New Jersey has become a battleground between environmental activists and big energy operators. Recently, Transco Williams won the right to build a 1.6-mile natural gas pipeline that stretches underneath Jacob Riis Park and ends at a meter and regulating station positioned at Floyd Bennett Field. Environmentalists fought the pipeline’s construction, arguing that it could harm the Jamaica Wildlife Refuge, local animal life and residents. Despite protests, the approved construction of the pipeline appears to be moving forward.

The Queens Chronicle describes the purpose of the new port, which would connect to the pipeline in Jamaica Bay:

Liberty Natural Gas submitted an application to the government to construct and operate Port Ambrose, a facility for importing liquified natural gas from Trinidad and Tobago. Specially designed vessels carrying liquified natural gas would regasify the fuel on-board and feed it into loading buoys and pipes which would link to the existing Transco pipeline, near Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways. The project would cost $300 million.

Liquified natural gas, or LNG, is primarily methane, cooled and condensed into liquid form, so that it is one six-hundredth of its usual volume, which makes it possible to ship.

According to Roger Whelan, the president of Liberty Natural Gas, natural gas prices in New York spike during the winter and summer months and importing the gas would keep prices down. Whelan claims the port will save consumers $325 million per year.

As Liberty prepares their $300 million project, environmentalists are coming out strong again, arguing that the port would create a threat comparable to a terrorist threat. Jamaica Bay Ecowatch member Dan Mundy was uncompromising in his opposition to the project:

Dan Mundy Jr., a member of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, strongly opposes the port. He called it a terrorist threat and an environmental disaster “with no benefit to the country.”

… Mundy said that the port would be a terrorist threat and that if the natural gas were to hit the warm ocean water, it would be like a “mini-nuclear bomb” and the plume of smoke would blow ashore.

Officials with LNG promised that the port would be built with “proven and safe technology,” but according to environmentalists the actual construction of the facility would be detrimental to the surrounding ocean habitat:

Building the port would entail trenching 20 miles of ocean floor to build the pipeline, increasing underwater noise and dumping massive quantities of warm water, severely damaging the ocean habitat, where a variety of fishes, crustaceans, whales and dolphins live. Testing the pipe requires 3.5 million gallons of chemically-treated seawater each time.

Besides waving numerous environmental red flags, environmentalists like Mundy have also noted that a natural gas import facility is unnecessary due to domestic natural gas production reaching all-time highs making prices lower than ever. Some of the opponents think the real reason is not for importing from Trinidad and Tobago, but actually for exporting from our already-high stock.

Questions over the economic and environmental impact of the proposed port will come further to light in the following months:

The public comment period was extended until Aug. 22, after which the U.S. Coast Guard and Marine Administrator will draft an Environmental Impact Statement, in accordance with the Deepwater Port Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Then there will be another round of public meetings, before the final EIS comes out.

Then both governors, Cuomo and Chris Christie of New Jersey, will approve or disapprove the project and the marine administrator will make the final decision.

Source: 10000birds.com

Source: 10000birds.com

The effort to turn Jamaica Bay into an action-packed tourist destination has ramped up in recent months as the spring and summer season kicked off. The New York Daily News reports new details on a host of new activities and concessions the Parks Department has in the works, as well as tempered warnings from environmentalists hoping that the fragile ecosystem of the Bay isn’t disturbed by increased human involvement.

Previously, we reported on plans by the Parks Department to bring trendy food trucks and bike rentals to the area in an effort to draw more tourists. Some of the food trucks expected to be set up in Riis Park include Rickshaw Dumpling, Eddie’s Pizza Truck and Pura Vida. As for covering bike rentals, the city has tapped California-based Wheel Fun Rentals to not only rent out bicycles, but a whole assortment of carts, paddle boards, canoes and pedal cars. Wheel Fun Rentals started operations on Memorial Day weekend.

People looking to rent kayaks will be able to do so this weekend at Riis Landing, but this perk already has some environmentalists worried that tourists might upset the delicate ecosystem of the Bay.

“Are they going to educate people who take kayaks out?” Don Riepe of the American Littoral Society’s Northeast Chapter told the Daily News. “Some of the islands are off-limits for the nesting season. There are some issues.”

While Riepe is excited that more people will be drawn to the Bay, he expressed a desire to have more park rangers surveying tourist activities so that the wildlife and fauna of the Bay doesn’t fall into danger from inexperienced visitors.

Sheena Walnetta, the marketing director for Wheel Fun Rentals promised that all renters will have to follow the rules.

“All of our rentals come with strict instructions and training. People will have to comply with all rules and regulations,” Walnetta said.

Thank goodness tourists and city residents never break any rules.

Source: Howard N2GOT / Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo approved a plan to inject some much needed funds to restore 28 acres of salt marsh in an effort to provide stability for the natural wildlife, as well as future storm protection. According to a press release, the project will be led by the Jamaica Bay Eco-Watchers and the Northeast Chapter of the American Littoral Society.

In their effort to restore and protect the salt marsh grasses, the state has approved $645,000 for the project. The state press release broke down the source of and dispersal of the funds raised:

“DEC [Department of Environmental Conservation] funds provided for this planting include $500,000 in compensatory mitigation associated with improvements to the Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and $145,000 from a settlement for illegal sewage discharges to Shellbank Creek. Planting work will begin in mid-May and is expected to be complete by the end of June.”

Restoring the salt marshes will bring stability to the local wildlife and fish populations while also providing storm protection for the Broad Channel community. During storms, the marshes reduce the force of waves and storm surges.

Dan Mundy, Jr., the president of the Jamaica Bay Eco-Watchers, thanked the state and governor and stressed the environmental importance of the project.

“These wetland islands are critical components to one of the most important estuaries on the East Coast. This project will restore two wetland islands that are nurseries to the tremendous number of species of bird and marine wildlife. In addition, these islands will play a critical role in dissipating the impact of future storm events and in the process will help to protect the adjacent communities.”

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.

Photo Courtesy Of Jeremy Drakeford

Officials from the Parks Department and the National Parks Service are collaborating on plans to bring food concession stands, and bike and kayak rentals to Jamaica Bay, according to a report by the New York Daily News.

Officials hope that an expansion of services in the region will go hand-in-hand with the restoration of the bay.

“We’re excited about the future plans for Jamaica Bay,” Dan Mundy Jr. of Jamaica Bay Eco-Watchers told the Daily News. “People will have greater access to the bay and we will also be able to keep up with restoration programs.”

Dan Hendrick, who is making a documentary called Jamaica Bay Lives, told the Daily News that increased tourism friendly activities around the bay will have a positive impact on the community that lives near the bay.

But Hendrick said many area residents have a “disconnect” with the bay because they consider it polluted. He hopes by opening it up to different kinds of recreation — such as camping in areas such as Floyd Bennett Field — they will develop a connection.

While its nice that the Parks Department and the National Parks Service want to create a more tourist friendly Jamaica Bay, there is also a mixed message being sent as the industrialization of Floyd Bennett Field continues with the development of the Jamaica Bay pipeline project.

Despite this, officials are excited about transforming Jamaica Bay into a hotter tourist destination, hoping that added amenities will spark a resurgence of interest.

Source: Howard N2GOT / Flickr

A cadre of city, state and federal representatives spoke of Superstorm Sandy’s impact on Jamaica Bay last Tuesday at the latest Jamaica Bay Task Force meeting, according to a report by Rockawave.

The gathering was stuffed with over 150 people, all eager to hear from officials over the state of the Bay.

“Whatever you think of climate change, it is an indisputable fact that in the past 100 years water levels have risen,” said Carter Strickland, an NYC Department of Environmental Protection representative.

Learn the specifics of how Jamaica Bay weathered the storm.

Source: Williams

As we recently reported, the proposed construction of the Rockaways Pipeline Project crossed another hurdle towards reality when President Obama recently signed H.R. 2606, approving the measure that would connect a 3.17-mile natural gas line from the Atlantic Ocean underneath Jamaica Bay to a meter and regulating station in Floyd Bennett Field. The proposed project, which still needs the approval of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, is still facing harsh and growing concern from residents, environmentalists, and local politicians, especially in the light of the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy, according to a report in the Gotham Gazette.

The report, which details much of what we’ve previously covered, highlights the new argument against the pipeline, growing from concerns over the risks and dangers of building a natural gas pipeline in an area already devastated by Sandy.

The damage Sandy visited upon Jamaica Bay was summed up by Dan Mundy, vice-president of Jamaica Bay Eco-Watchers,

“The Bay has taken a big hit,” [Mundy] added that “tremendous amounts” of fuel oil and debris had entered Jamaica Bay as a result of the storm, and that two freshwater ponds had breached “in a very dramatic fashion.” Mundy explained that tides had flushed out much of the oil, but he added that the post-storm period was a “critical time for mitigation”.

Local politicians have also begun speaking out against the project since the events of Superstorm Sandy. U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke emailed the Gotham Gazette stating, “Our need for independent energy cannot precede the safety of our community and environment.” State Senator Joseph Addabbo stressed the importance of  helping people of the local community recover from Sandy over starting a massive new pipeline project saying, “Doing this simultaneously with Sandy becomes a daunting task. People are trying to get their lives back.”

Another major concern are the changes that will be heading to Floyd Bennett Park should the project proceed. Karen Orlando, a local resident and member of the Floyd Bennett Garden Association told Gotham Gazette that, “This bill puts a pipeline under a popular beach and introduces private industrial use of a federal park, and it does so with no public input,” and that an “industrial infrastructure,” placed in Floyd Bennett field itself, “a couple hundred of feet from a community garden used by four to five-hundred members and their families,” would have negative impact as well.

Source: Williams

Issuing what appears to be the final nail in the coffin for opponents of the proposed natural gas Rockaway Pipeline Project, President Obama signed the New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act (H.R. 2606) this past Tuesday. Obama’s signature paves the way for the commencement of the project, which now only needs the approval of the Federal Energy Regulation Commission, according to a report by WYNC.

The proposed construction of the pipeline has faced fierce criticism from environmentalists who gathered thousands of signatures in opposition to the pipeline, and led dozens of protests.

The plan calls for a 3.17-mile pipeline connecting an existing line in the Atlantic through an underground path that cuts through the bottom of the Rockaways and Jamaica Bay to Floyd Bennett Field.

Chris Stockton, a representative of the Williams Companies, which is constructing the pipeline, promises that they will take great care in protecting Jamaica Bay telling WNYC that, “We’re not only burying it underground, but they put concrete mats over the pipe to make sure it doesn’t float to the surface, because you’re filling it with a gas. You want to make sure it doesn’t float.”

Environmentalists are concerned about the a meter and regulation station that will be built on Floyd Bennett Field. They warn that if another storm with Sandy’s power strikes the area, the field and station would be flooded.

 

Next »