Archive for the tag 'national parks'

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

Opponents of the proposed Jamaica Bay gas pipeline have crafted another petition to showcase their disdain for the plans, following the U.S. Senate’s approval of the pipeline proposal.

Barbara Pearson, a Floyd Bennett Field Gardens Association member, helped write the petition, which she hopes will convince President Barack Obama to veto H.R. 2606, the legislation that will authorize industrial use of Floyd Bennett Field and appropriate part of the park to Williams Companies and National Grid.

Pearson writes:

Please sign my petition asking President Obama to veto HR 2606 – you will be asked to create an account on whitehouse.gov in order to sign this petition but it is extremely easy and they will email you a link that takes you right back to the petition once your account has been created. We need 150 signatures for the petition to be viewable on whitehouse.gov. If we get 25,000 signatures, the Obama administration says it will respond to the petition, so please forward this link far and wide.

Pearson joins a long list of advocates who oppose the pipeline, such as the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline (CARP). According to CARP, if the pipeline is allowed to course through part of the Rockaways and potentially create environmental hazards, it would create a precedent by which future pipeline projects would be able to operate in other federally-funded parklands for similar projects.

An excerpt from the petition states:

 In addition, we feel the risk this legislation poses to ALL national parks being given over to inappropriate uses cannot be overstated when one considers that NPS is increasingly motivated to solve its maintenance backlog by entering into private “partnerships” as a source of financing. In fact, the “rehabilitation” of the hangars at Floyd Bennett Field at no cost to NPS is openly cited as a reason this inappropriate use will be implemented if H.R. 2606 becomes law.

Let your view be known – to pipeline or not to pipeline?

CARP members collecting petitions at Riis Park.

We reported on Monday about the United States Senate giving the green light to H.R. 2606, clearing one of the last major hurdles to the installation of a natural gas pipeline underneath Jamaica Bay, complete with a metering station within the historic hangars at Floyd Bennett Field.

The plan’s opponents, the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline, issued the following statement blasting the Senate’s decision and stating plans to take their case all the way up to President Barack Obama.

They write:

The Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline (CARP) is outraged that both houses of Congress have now quietly approved legislation to permit a natural-gas pipeline and a metering-and-regulation facility to be built in Gateway National Recreation Area in Brooklyn and Queens. H.R. 2606, which alters a 1972 law that has long protected the federal park from any uses other than recreation or conservation, was passed by the U.S. Senate on Sept. 21st without adequate public review. The alienation of a piece of Gateway, historic hangars in Floyd Bennett Field for industrial use, has never been properly addressed by legislators or the National Park Service and the public has been consistently left out of the democratic and decision-making process.

In less than two months, CARP has collected 5000 signatures against this legislation, the greatest bulk from beach goers, families and park users, who were both unaware of and unsupportive of this use the park. 9 million people use Gateway National Recreation Area, one of America’s most used and oldest urban national parks in the densest urban environment in the country.

CARP will continue to fight this misuse of Floyd Bennett Field, which features historic aircraft hangars, heavily used recreation facilities, hiking trails, camping and one of New York State’s oldest and largest community gardens and the Jamaica Bay Unit, home to popular beach and waterfront areas and the only wildlife refuge accessable by subway and bus. We will appeal to President Obama, whose Great Outdoors initiative promotes connecting Americans with the outdoors and partnering with local stakeholders to best gauge the needs of the community. We will ask Obama to veto this bill because it does not represent a government that is transparant, collaborative and participatory.

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