Archive for the tag 'national parks'

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: 10000birds.com

Source: 10000birds.com

Federal and city officials announced the formation of an ambitious new research group that will focus its studies on the area in and around Jamaica Bay. According to a press release, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the forming of the Jamaica Bay Science and Resilience Institute (JBSRI), a project led by the City the University of New York (CUNY).

The JBSRI’s main focus centers around the natural storm defense barriers of Jamaica Bay, which include tidal wetlands, salt marshes and dunes. The hope is that a more extensive study of these barriers will allow officials and scientists to replicate them in other areas. The home base for the JBSRI will initially be located at Brooklyn College until a $3 million center is built by Jamaica Bay.

Bloomberg hoped that the new research project would also lead to an overall strengthening of Jamaica Bay itself.

“Jamaica Bay is one of the greatest natural treasures any city has within its borders, and our Administration is working hard to make the bay an even greater, stronger, and more resilient natural resource for decades to come. The new consortium we’re announcing today is an all-star team of research institutions and non-profits who will do important work to protect and preserve urban ecosystems from development and from the effects of climate change,” Bloomberg said in the release.

In agreeing with mayor, Jewell stressed that the research done at Jamaica Bay would serve as a model for fighting global warming and climate change.

“And now, in CUNY and their academic partners, we have a consortium of world-class institutions to advance our understanding of climate change and its impact on our natural systems. Working together, we will develop and coordinate approaches to coastal resiliency for Jamaica Bay that can serve as a model for communities around the world threatened by climate change,” Jewell said.

Interim CUNY Chancellor William Kelly promised groundbreaking science in this latest effort.

“Together with our distinguished partners, we will engage in a groundbreaking effort to revitalize the Jamaica Bay ecosystem. This will include extensive research to enhance our understanding of the ecosystem and its resilience, and the coordination and implementation of a comprehensive revitalization and restoration program for Jamaica Bay and the entire watershed,” Kelly said.

The news comes on the heels of last week’s announcement by the Obama administration which looked to establish Jamaica Bay as a hotspot for hiking, biking, boating and camping. The goal of that plan is to put places like Jamaica Bay on par with the nation’s most popular national parks, in an effort to expand the accessibility and popularity of national parks located near big cities.

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 parkplanning.nps.gov, 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.

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.

 

The proposed placement of natural gas pipelines from Williams and National Grid. Source: Williams

According to the legislative calendar for the House of Representatives, H.R. 2606, better known as the New York City Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act or the Jamaica Bay pipeline, is set to be voted on today. After the area where the pipeline will be installed was badly damaged due to Sandy, advocates against the pipeline warn that a major storm could happen again, and with the pipeline there the consequences could be far worse than ever before.

The proposed construction of this pipeline has been marred by dozens of protests and thousands of anti-pipeline petition signatures. Now that they’ve seen Sandy’s aftermath, advocates against the pipeline have added another reason not to ahead with construction to their list.

The Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline (CARP) writes:

It’s complete insanity to build a high-pressure gas pipeline and metering station in an area that has just been destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and will REGULARLY experience such events, or worse, in the decades to come. We don’t need this gas — we need to stop climate change and switch to renewables.

This bill permits construction of a gas pipeline in a national park – right next to a wildlife refuge that is home to a dozen endangered and threatened species; right under a public beach that is used by thousands of New Yorkers every year; and right by the largest community garden on the East Coast.

In the wake of the Hurricane Sandy stopping this bill is imperative. The bill authorizes construction of a high-pressure gas pipeline and metering station in an area that has just experienced major flooding and fire – and will do so again as the oceans rise because of climate change. Thousands of lives could be jeopardized in the event of another hurricane or storm surge.

They urge others to join them in their opposition of the pipeline by calling local congressmembers Tuesday morning and telling them to vote “no” on H.R. 2606.

You can find your congressperson’s Washington number by going here.

 

As we reported last week, the Army Corp of Engineers began the process of restoring Plumb Beach by pumping more than 127,000 cubic yards of sand into the eroded stretch.

The video above shows you exactly what you’d expect sand pumping to look like, with a motorized plume of sand exploding onto the coastline in a near continuous stream. The sand itself is coming from Ambrose Channel, one of the city’s navigational waterways that serves commercial vessels coming and going from New York Harbor.

The process of pumping sand onto the beach is part of effort’s first phase, which should be completed in November.

The restoration of Plumb Beach, which was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Ida in 2009, is expected to be completed in 2013 at a cost of $6.5 million dollars.

The parking lot is temporarily closed to visitors.

Plumb Beach Bike Path Destroyed By Hurricane Ida

The Plumb Beach bike path after Hurricane Ida swept through in 2009.

The Army Corps of Engineers will begin hotly-anticipated long-term repairs to Plumb Beach today, dumping the first of 127,000 cubic yards of sand on an eroded stretch of the coastline.

The first phase of the project will see sand pumped onto Plumb Beach, brought here from Ambrose Channel – a navigational waterway that serves many of the commercial vessels entering and exiting New York Harbor. The Staten Island-based Great Lakes Dredge and Dock won the $3.5 million contract, and they will also place temporary geotube groins to prevent against any further erosion during the construction.

“Plumb Beach is being saved. The Belt Parkway is being saved. It is a good day for our community,” said Councilman Fidler.

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The Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline (CARP) delivered petitions with 5,000 signatures to Senator Charles Schumer’s Manhattan office Tuesday as members of the environmental group push for a presidential veto of the project.

Although the House and the Senate passed the bill authorizing a gas pipeline to run through the Gateway National Recreation Area, CARP members don’t plan to give up.

“It is too late to the stop the bill from being passed. It’s not too late to show opposition to the project,” said Jonathan Fluck, CARP’s spokesperson.

The proposed Jamaica Bay pipeline would connect an existing natural gas pipeline three miles offshore with Southern Brooklyn. The pipeline would tunnel under Jacob Riis Park, cross Jamaica Bay and surface at Floyd Bennett Field. Williams Company, which is constructing the pipeline, plans to establish a metering station within a vacant hanger at the historic airfield.

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