Archive for the tag 'jamaica bay'

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).

Photos of the staging area at the Fountain Avenue landfill. (Source: GooseWatch NYC)

Photos of the staging area at the Fountain Avenue landfill. (Source: GooseWatch NYC)

Another day, another animal in the cross-hairs of the wildlife gestapo.

In the wacky world of wildlife preservation, we’ve seen battles rage over swans and cats in the past few weeks, and now concerns are being revived about the annual plans to round up and euthanize Canada geese.

The latest comes from GooseWatch NYC, an advocacy group that since 2010 has been sounding the alarm on the city’s annual goose culling. They say that members have spotted USDA Wildlife Services agents, which the city and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey contracts to manage the swan population, setting up a staging area at Canarsie’s Fountain Avenue Landfill (which has been folded into the wildlife refuge and is in the process of $20 million ecological restoration). Trucks with the USDA logo were photographed, along with kayaks, crates and corral gates used to round up the birds before carting them off for lethal gassing.

Such culling usually happens around this time every year, as Canada geese go through their molting period, hampering their flying ability and making them easier to capture.

The group is outraged, as they are every year, especially since the area is now part of the wildlife refuge. They also say that, following the 1,000 goose culling over the last two years, there are just a few dozen remaining in Jamaica Bay, suggesting that the agency seeks total annihilation and not just population control.

“It’s now obvious that the USDA intends to kill every last Canada goose they can at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, a supposed safe haven for these creatures,” said David Karopkin, GooseWatch NYC’s founder, in a press release. “There is no need to kill these birds. It’s obscene and tragic, and the public has a right to know what our government is doing.”

The annual goose slaughters began in 2009 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The population reduction is being done to reduce collisions with jets at local airports, including JFK airport, located adjacent to the wildlife refuge, although critics say alternate methods, including radar upgrades, could do the trick more efficiently.

GooseWatch is also taking issue with the current mayor, who they say is walking back his campaign promise to seek out more humane ways to manage the population and reduce air strikes.

“Mayor de Blasio committed to put every approach on the table and work with independent experts and animal advocates, but now instead we’re learning that the cruel and ineffective goose removals will continue in NYC this summer, and perhaps for years to come,” said Karopkin.

A petition has been launched to end the lethal culling of geese in New York City. Another group, Friends of Animals, is planning a protest outside of the Port Authority’s headquarters (225 Park Avenue South) on Thursday, June 26, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Snowy Owl was recently removed from the kill list. But bird killing still goes on. (Photo submitted by Stuart Fries, but taken by anonymous friend)

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey killed 26,000 birds over the last four years who had the misfortune of being in and around the John F.Kennedy Airport area.

According to DNAinfo, 1,600 of these birds were protected species – meaning they were endangered or at-risk species – that the authority did not have permission to kill. Citing internal records, between 2009 and 2013 1,628 birds from 18 different species that were killed were protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

While the agency is in charge of the airport and had permission to shoot “problem” species that threatened airplanes going in and out of the airport, the report has found that many of the killings were beyond the scope of the permission the agency had.

DNAinfo writes:

The Port Authority, which contracts the job of managing airport bird hazards to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is able to shoot these species because its permits make allowance for “emergency situations,” according to the permit.

That means any migratory birds can be exterminated if they are deemed to pose a “direct threat to human safety” — with the exceptions of eagles and endangered or threatened species, under the law.

Carol Bannerman, a spokeswoman for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the actions it takes to reduce wildlife hazards at airports are “in compliance with federal and state rules” and that it relied more on non-lethal measures.

The agency has also gunned down the brown-headed cowbird, boat-tailed grackle, common raven, American crow, fish crow and waterfowl and wading birds that relish the coastal wetlands neighboring Kennedy, such as the wood duck, bufflehead, American wigeon, semipalmated plover, sanderling, least sandpiper, black-crowned night heron, great egret and cattle egret, according to Port Authority records.

The New York Post, also reporting on the issue, quoted animal-rights groups that called the agency “trigger happy” and:

“We find it upsetting they discontinued [nonlethal controls] . . . and decided it was more cost-effective to just shoot them,” said Glenn Phillips of New York City Audubon Society.

The Post reported that they also killed animals even if they didn’t have wings. “Tarmac hunters also killed four red foxes, 11 coyotes, 44 muskrats, 62 woodchucks and 11 white-tailed deer. Eighty-two eastern cottontail rabbits were killed at Newark and JFK airports, along with 44 black-tailed jack rabbits at JFK.”

The agency’s readiness to kill birds has been the subject of much controversy before and they recently removed the snowy owl from their kill list. And even when the agency isn’t killing birds, the airport still causes environmentalists to cringe.

The airport is in the middle of the Atlantic flyway, one of North America’s busiest routes for migrating birds. It’s surrounded by national parkland and a wildlife reserve.

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Jamaica Bay, pictured here, is a wetland barrier that many have said can serve as a storm barrier if restored. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Forget seawalls, a new report by Oxfam America and the Center for American Progress makes the case that wetlands can be the best buffer against storms like Superstorm Sandy.

“The surge” was something people kept talking about after Superstorm Sandy hit and it was the cause of so much flooding and, consequently, damage. But if there had been some obstacle between the surge and buildings, the flooding wouldn’t haven been so devastating. The report argues that one of the most cost-effective and efficient obstacles can be wetlands, and urges government to support restoration efforts.

“We are increasingly learning the cost of losing landscapes once thought to be valueless. The wetlands ecosystem provided numerous services to society that we now are beginning to sorely miss,” the authors of the report argue. “These benefits include buffering storm surges; safeguarding coastal homes and businesses.”

More than just remarking on the benefits of a wetland, the report quantifies the benefits in economic terms.

For the creation of jobs: “$1 million invested in coastal restoration creates 17.1 jobs on average. This compares to job growth from industrial coastal activities, such as oil and gas development, in which $1 million of investment creates an average of just 5.2 jobs.”

In a time when residents in vulnerable communities like Gerritsen Beach are looking for storm barriers, the Center for American Progress argues that “man-made flood barriers” are “frequently less effective” than something like a swampland.

Senator Charles Schumer made a similar argument when he pushed for the restoration of Jamaica Bay, which is an example of a wetland that serves as a barrier.

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.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

Senator Charles Schumer is asking the federal Department of Interior, or DOI, to put millions into projects that would restore Jamaica Bay after Superstorm Sandy, as well strengthen it as the barrier between waves and coastal communities in future storms.

The projects would total $17.5 million and they would also help Rockaway’s coastline be more resilient, the lawmaker announced last week in a press release.

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. 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.

The five programs Schumer is pushing for 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

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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!

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(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Rockaway Beach Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder announced last week that a project to restore and maintain Jamaica Bay’s wildlife reserve, a sprawling 18,000-acre wetland estuary, has won a $400,000 from the Regional Economic Development Council for habitat restoration.

The project, Jamaica Bay Habitat Restoration and Waterfront Revitalization, will not only be used to protect wildlife but also to protect the coast from future hurricanes. Goldfeder explained this plan to The Forum,

“Jamaica Bay has been a longtime community gem, but its breathtaking views and grassy marsh also serve a significant purpose — storm protection,” Goldfeder said in a prepared statement. “Jamaica Bay contains natural barriers that have proven to be more effective than any man-made sea wall or levee. This funding toward Jamaica Bay will not only help attract visitors and increase economic development, but it will enable our community to become more resilient against potential future storms.”

The grant will be administered by the city Parks Department along with the city Department of Environmental Protection.

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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?

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

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

The Rockefeller Foundation bestowed a $250,000 grant to the City College of New York (CUNY) to figure out a way to stem the disastrous consequences of major flooding in Jamaica Bay, according to a CUNY release.

Last year, Superstorm Sandy thrashed the city and flooded much of Jamaica Bay. While Jamaica Bay’s beaches and wetlands provided some resistance to the intense flooding, surrounding urban development limited the effectiveness of the natural barriers. This has led researchers to investigate solutions to increase overall protection to the natural environment of the bay.

The team is being led by Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, an associate professor of landscape architecture at CUNY’s Spitzer School of Architecture. Nordenson was hopeful that work to protect and enhance Jamaica Bay would benefit the surrounding area and environment.

“As sea levels rise and the risk of storm surge and flooding from hurricanes and other storms increases, the vast scale of Jamaica Bay allows this region of the city to be recast and restructured as an impactful ecological, infrastructural and community asset that can enhance the region’s resiliency,” Nordenson said.

The CUNY release described the phases that the research would undergo as well as other cooperating partners in the project:

Princeton University is coordinating the multi-university effort with a planning and engineering team. The City College grant, for $250,000 over 14 months, will be developed in three phases, each concluding with an interim review with peers from City College, other CUNY institutions, and invited guests.

In addition, Princeton will organize public workshops that will include representatives from the other institutions receiving grants – University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University and Princeton – and a panel of expert advisors.

At the end of each phase, the City College team will produce a report with a narrative and documentation of that phase’s research, studies, analyses, maps and resilient design proposals. The final phase will conclude with the preparation of a final summary report and public exhibition.

It’s really amazing to see the commitment to long-term planning and vigorous scientific research needed following Sandy. Hopefully, when future storms hit, people will be safer, more property can be protected and the environment can be preserved.

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