Tuesday, July 1, 2014

JB West Pond open comment period and hearing


Subject: Environmental Assessment for West Pond Project at Jamaica Bay Wildlife 
From: Seth Ausubel <sausubel@nyc.rr.com>
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2014 20:35:20 -0400
X-Message-Number: 5

Hello NYSBirders,

The National Park Service has announced the beginning of the planning process 
for the West Pond at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.  As you are probably 
aware, the West Pond was breached in October 2012 during Hurricane Sandy.  The 
breach opened the pond to the tides and destroyed the valuable freshwater 
habitat that was one of New York State's premier birding destinations.

Birders must speak up to ensure the pond is restored to support birds and 
wildlife.  The Birders' Coalition for Gateway has taken the position that the 
pond should be restored to the habitat values that existed after the West Pond 
was created in the 1950s.  This includes a large freshwater pond and emergent 
wetlands with water level regulation to encourage seasonal shorebird and 
waterfowl use; and open dune to encourage tern and Diamondback Terrapin nesting. 
High salt marsh is uncommon in Jamaica Bay and is another habitat element of 
interest for restoration of the West Pond. Currently the breach in the dike of 
the West Pond has turned the pond into a mudflat and caused the destruction of 
vegetation that is not salt tolerant. The former open dune area, called Terrapin 
Point, is overgrown into a dense thicket due to years of neglect by the Park 
Service.  Thus the area has virtually no habitat value and does not contribute 
to ecosystem diversity. 

So what can birders do?

- Attend the public scoping meeting on July 17 at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife 
Refuge (see information below).
- Sign the Birders' Coalition's petition at  http://tinyurl.com/WestPondPetition  

- Write to Gateway National Recreation Area Superintendent Jennifer Nersesian 
and other public officials and tell them you want the West Pond restored for 
birds and wildlife.

Additional information on the public scoping process and the July 17 public 
meeting is below.  Public comments are being accepted through July 30, 2014.  
The full recommendations for restoration of the West Pond by the Birders' 
Coalition for Gateway can be found on New York City Audubon's web site at  

A variety of interest groups will undoubtedly be very vocal in the upcoming 
scoping process.  The National Park Service has a history of giving priority to 
active recreational interests at the expense of wildlife in the Gateway National 
Recreation Area. It is critical that birders participate and make their views 

Thanks to all of you for your interest and I hope to see you at Jamaica Bay!

Seth Ausubel
Director, New York State Ornithological Association
On behalf of the Birders' Coalition for Gateway

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Becnel, Reina <reina_becnel@nps.gov>
> Date: Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 11:40 AM
> Subject: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Gateway Begins Planning Process for 
Environmental Assessment for West Pond Project at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
> To: 
> Cc: Jennifer Nersesian <jen_nersesian@nps.gov>, Emina Sendich 
> Contact:                    Reina Becnel, Public Affairs
> Phone Number:      718-354-4606
> Date:                         June 26, 2014          
> Gateway Begins Planning Process for Environmental Assessment
> for West Pond Project at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
> The National Park Service, in cooperation with the Federal Highway 
Administration Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFLHD), is preparing an 
environmental assessment (EA) in support of a proposed project to address damage 
that resulted from a breach that occurred at the West Pond of the Jamaica Bay 
Wildlife Refuge during Hurricane Sandy. 
> NPS is asking the public to help the park define both the natural and cultural 
values and characteristics important for protection of this popular area. To do 
this, the Gateway National Recreation Area will host an open house public 
meeting on July 17, 2014, from 6:00 � 8:00 PM. The meeting will be held in the 
Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center at Cross Bay Boulevard, Queens, N.Y. 
The meeting is the first step in the development of an EA.
> �We know that this is one of the most visible reminders of the damage from 
Hurricane Sandy in Jamaica Bay,� said Gateway Superintendent Jennifer Nersesian. 
�An environmental assessment will help us make the smartest choice for the west 
pond and what future storms may bring.�
> The purpose of the proposed project is to provide for environmentally 
sensitive and resilient conditions along the West Pond Trail area that support a 
diversity of Jamaica Bay habitats and wildlife. The EA will address any 
potential impacts to natural or cultural resources that may result from the 
proposed project. NPS will gather input from park staff, other agencies and the 
public to consider the potential effects of the proposed project.
> The EA will look at the area�s natural and cultural resources to be sure that 
they are protected as part of the assessment. �We will be asking the public to 
share their knowledge about this special area with us as a part of the work,� 
said Acting Chief of Resource Management Dave Taft. �We will gather information 
from the public, non-profit organizations, and other federal and state agencies 
to ensure that we understand fully what they value about this popular and 
important area of Jamaica Bay.�
> The EA will be prepared in compliance with the National Environmental Policy 
Act to provide a decision-making framework that: 1) analyzes a reasonable range 
of alternatives to meet project objectives; 2) evaluates potential issues and 
impacts to park resources and values; and 3) identifies mitigation measures to 
lessen the degree or extent of these impacts.
> The public has two opportunities to formally comment on the project: during 
the public scoping period for the EA, and again during a 30-day public review 
following release of the EA. Public scoping comments about the proposed project 
may be submitted electronically from June 30 through July 30, 2014, at the 
National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment web site:
> Comments may be submitted online at http://www.nps.gov/gate/index.htm or 
mailed to the park at the following address:
> Gateway National Recreation Area
> ATTN:  Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, West Pond EA Comments
> 210 New York Avenue
> Staten Island, NY 10305.
> About Gateway National Recreation Area
> Established in 1972, Gateway National Recreation Area offers more than 26,000 
acres of marshes, wildlife sanctuaries and recreational athletic facilities, 
miles of sandy beaches; indoor and outdoor classrooms; picnicking and camping 
areas, as well as historic structures and military installations, airfields, a 
lighthouse, and adjacent waters around New York harbor. The park offers urban 
residents in two states a wide range of recreational opportunities year round. 
Gateway is one of the ten most visited national parks in the country. For 
information about Gateway's upcoming public programs, see the park's Web site at 
http://www.nps.gov/gate/index.htm.  To join the conversation about Gateway, like 
us on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/Gatewaynps.
> -NPS-
> -- 
> Reina Becnel
> Chief, Public Affairs
> Gateway National Recreation Area
> Phone: 718-354-4607
> Cell: 917-932-4399
> Visit us on the web: 
> http://www.nps.gov/gate