Conservation

West Pond Environmental Assessment Public Meeting — 7/7/2014

A meeting was held at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge on the evening of July 17th to begin formally to address the breach at the West Pond. The purpose of this “scoping” meeting was to initiate the development of an environmental assessment (EA) concerning the damage done to the refuge by Hurricane Sandy over a year and a half ago. Gateway National Recreation Area superintendent Jennifer Nersesian and other park personnel were at the meeting to answer questions. There was no formal presentation by the National Park Service — nor was there any opportunity for concerned groups such as the Birders’ Coalition for Gateway to make statements. Participants were encouraged to write their comments on large sheets of paper and to fill out surveys. For those unable to attend the public meeting, the survey can be found at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/gate. You can also provide comments by mail:

National Park Service
Gateway National Recreation Area
Attn: West Pond Environmental Assessment
210 New York Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10305

A West Pond Environmental Assessment Newsletter #1 has been issued. By providing your name and address when filling out the survey or when sending your comments directly to GNRA you will be on the mailing list for future issues.

Linnaean Society members are strongly urged to submit their comments about the future of the refuge and the West Pond in particular. At the end of last year GNRA hired a firm to put together alternatives (one of which is “no action”) for the rehabilitation of the West Pond, but according to Superintendent Nersesian all submitted concerns and proposals for the pond will be considered for the EA. Once the draft EA is completed there will be another opportunity for public input. The entire EA process is expected to take at least a¬†year. At that point actual rehabilitation work will commence.

The Birders’ Coalition for Gateway continues to push for the full restoration of a freshwater (not brackish) West Pond of the original (or near original) size as well as freshwater (not brackish) marshes/wetlands. The petition to “Save the West Pond” has over 6,000 signatures and will be delivered to NPS and elected officials as well as the media in a few days. Further, Superintendent Nersesian and other NPS personnel have expressed a willingness to meet with representatives of the coalition at the end of this month. Stay tuned…

Andrew Rubenfeld
Chair, Conservation Committee