International Coastal Clean-up Day 2017

Window Clings Reduce Bird Collisions

While raptor silhouettes have been proven ineffective at deterring bird collisions with windows, almost any pattern will work as long as the shapes are not too small and are placed not more than 3 inches apart. You can use tape, or comercial window clings, but window clings are fun and easy to make for yourself!

 

To make your own window cling, use dimensional fabric paints such as these. It works best to tape a piece of clear plastic, like an overhead transparancy or laminating plastic over your template. First outline your design with a darker color, then fill in the pattern. 

You can use our hummingbird Template or design your own!

 

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Comments on GMP

 

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, while not part of the National Wildlife Refuge system managed by the US Fish And Wildlife Service, represents a portion of Gateway National Recreation Area that is intended to be primarily managed for the benefit and protection of its wildlife. The refuge was originally a city park, created by Robert Moses. The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge covers 9,000 acres (20 square miles) of open bay, saltmarsh, and mudflats. The heart of the refuge on Ruler’s Bar Hassock, straddling Cross Bay Boulevard, consists of Robert Moses-era constructed landscapes of upland field and woods, two man-made brackish ponds—117-acre “East Pond” and 45-acre “West Pond” and small fresh water ponds, including Big John’s Pond. Principal threats to the refuge include subsiding saltmarshes, poor water quality from sewer overflows and discharged nitrogen from the city’s sewage treatment plants, invasive species —especially in the constructed habitats, and the failure of the water management systems installed at the east and west ponds. Concerns remain that even currently, natural resource management efforts at the refuge are underfunded.

Alternative B (Discovering Gateway)

This plan emphasizes access to the “Refuge” on Rulers Bar Hassock Island on Crossbay Boulevard that includes the Visitor Contact Station and the East and West ponds. Any plans to attract more visitors must include an increase in staff for patrols and interpretation, without detracting from already limited funds for natural resource management. Seasonal kayak/canoe landing on other Islands in the Wildlife Refuge would require close monitoring by National Park Service Police and rangers. Safety, enforcement, and refuse management and removal from islands would place increased demands on Park Service staff. If a “network of trails, boardwalks and nature study facilities such as blinds” are expanded and/or constructed judiciously, they might reduce wildlife habitat disturbance.

Alternative C (Experiencing Preserved Places)

NYC Audubon fully supports the proposal to “Establish a field station for environmental education and natural resource stewardship training and as a living laboratory for the recovery of natural areas….” Fully implementing such an ambitious program would bring this wildlife refuge closer to the model of the National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. First and foremost, this plan needs to adequately staff the refuge’s natural resource management efforts, and address the now-failing water-management systems. Because so much of the Jamaica Bay land is very flat, it is hard to fully appreciate the geography of the Islands and the full extent of the bay itself. Viewing platforms/towers could literally give visitors a new perspective while allowing biologists/ornithologists a vantage point to observe bird’s flight patterns. (Alternative C (Experiencing Preserved Places) does not mention observation towers – only platforms). The proposal that “Wetlands around and adjacent to Jamaica Bay [be] managed as a system” is now being implemented through a cooperative agreement between New York City and Gateway/Department of the Interior.

Alternative D (Connecting Coastlines)

While NYC Audubon generally supports access to natural places, sensitive habitats, especially areas used by breeding birds, need protection from human disturbances. An important part of such programs should be safety training and environmental orientation. It is important that kayakers and canoeists comport themselves with a sensitivity to wildlife and their habitat. Islands in the bay must be off-limits to recreational visitation during the breeding season for Jamaica Bay’s birds (March through mid-August). During the remainder of the year, efforts to control refuse, which may artificially inflate predator and scavenger populations, are critical.

Floyd Bennett Field

GMP Comments

NYC Audubon’s involvement in Floyd Bennett Field began very early in the history of our Chapter with the Grassland Restoration and Management Project proposal in 1980. The final clearing of shrubs and trees in 1990 preserved 130 acres a grassland habitat for five species of grassland birds: grasshopper sparrows, eastern meadowlarks, savannah sparrows, American kestrels, and short-eared owls. Only savannah sparrows still breed there today. The quality of the grassland habitat has declined over the years and now requires intensive grassland restoration beyond the annual mowing.

The “North Forty,” actually about 75 acres, had been set aside as an area where “natural succession” would be allowed to takes its course. In recent years, the extensive invasion of alien plant species has made human intervention necessary. Many native trees are now being introduced into the North Forty in collaboration with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation while suppressing the invasive species.

As mitigation for the bridge and highway expansion along the Belt Parkway, 2.3 acres of the north shore of Floyd Bennett Field has been restored to tidal marsh. Dead Horse Bay, on the west side of Flatbush Avenue is an important horseshoe crab egg-laying site. Most of the rest of the site’s shoreline has been hardened with rip-rap.

NYC Audubon supports the efforts of the Regional Plan Association to determine a new vision for this area of Gateway, as defined by the Floyd Bennett Field Blue Ribbon Panel

Alternative B (Discovering Gateway)

Among the many proposals present in Alternative B , Floyd Bennett Field would be transformed into a “regional recreation destination.” The preservation of wildlife habitat within Floyd Bennett Field could be severely impacted if the number of visitors and expanse of area dedicated to visitor use are increased. Of particular concern is that the GMP envisions “enlarged areas for community uses and recreation activities provide for extensive camping facilities, play areas and entertainment/programming venues….” Outside of the Flatbush Avenue Corridor, NYC Audubon strongly opposes any high impact activities.

Alternative C (Experiencing Preserved Places)

NYC Audubon agrees with the goal of continuing and significantly expanding habitat and shoreline restoration. As currently described, It is unclear whether this proposal would continue to maintain and manage the grasslands on the site of the former runways. Also NYC Audubon has grave concerns about expansion of camping and equestrian activities at Floyd Bennett Field. The grasslands, while appearing like abandoned fields to the uninformed, are actually quite sensitive to disturbance. Special care must be taken to prevent encroachment on these spaces.

Alternative D (Connecting Coastlines)

The concept of a “Wetlands Center with extensive wetland creation and shoreline restoration” is highly desirable, and NYC Audubon strongly supports its creation. A Wetlands Center could be designed in ways to bring large numbers of New Yorkers into close contact with the delicate ecosystem of Jamaica Bay without causing harm to that system. While NYC Audubon generally supports access to natural places, sensitive habitats, especially areas used by breeding birds, need protection from human disturbances. Water trails present an exciting way for visitors to experience Gateway, but must be designed carefully. It is important that kayakers and canoeists comport themselves with a sensitivity to wildlife and their habitat. Islands in the bay must be off-limits to recreational visitation during the breeding season for Jamaica Bay’s birds (March through mid-August). During the remainder of the year, efforts to control refuse, which may artificially inflate predator and scavenger populations, are critical.

Preferred Alternative Plan Released for the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge West Pond

Thank you to all who joined New York City Audubon in submitting comments on the environmental assessment (EA) prepared for National Park Service (NPS) regarding alternative plans for the West Pond at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The EA was released this past October and the official comment period closed on November 6. We are happy to report that we agree with the NPS Preferred Alternative: to repair the breach, return the pond back to its freshwater state with water levels that can be controlled, and provide wildlife viewing areas for visitors. The restoration will be done in two phases: 1. Repair of the breach and the loop path, and filling of the pond; 2. Habitat restoration, including upland habitat at Terrapin Point, shoreline restoration, salt marsh restoration, and installation of other visitor amenities. Our main concern is the fresh water source: we support either a ground well or municipal water supply and are against the method of waiting for the pond to fill with rain water and runoff. All of these efforts will provide better habitat for Species of Greatest Conservation Need and the people of New York City. 

The comment period for the EA closed on November 6. Thank you to all who submitted comments in favor of restoration of a freshwater West Pond. 

Click here to access a downloadable PDF of the EA.


Our Vision for Restoring Jamaica Bay's West Pond

[b]The breach of Jamaica Bay's West Pond [/b][br]© NYC Audubon

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge was created as a wildlife sanctuary in 1951, occupying “West Island,“ a landfill composed of Rulers Bar Hassock and Goose Creek Marsh. At the urging of Robert Moses, then New York City’s Parks Commissioner, additional dredging and filling took place in order to form two freshwater impoundments, the East and West Ponds (115 acres and 44 acres, respectively). At the time, the ecological value of salt marsh was not fully recognized, and it was believed that freshwater would better serve the needs of wildlife, especially ducks and geese. In 1974, the refuge was turned over to the National Park Service as part of the formation of Gateway National Recreation Area, and both fresh- and saltwater habitats in the refuge have been important to resident and migratory birds in the ensuing years. In October 2012, the storm surge from hurricane Sandy breached both the East and West Ponds. While the East Pond was quickly repaired by the Transit Authority as part of its efforts to restore train service to the Rockaways, the West Pond has remained breached, transforming it from a pond into a lagoon of Jamaica Bay.

The Draft General Management Plan for Gateway National Recreation Area, released in the fall of 2013, called for “leaving West Pond breached until a study is completed under a more regional effort to reestablish freshwater wetlands.” This study is underway. While the National Park Service sought funding for the restoration of the West Pond, NYC Audubon began exploring restoration concepts. NYC Audubon recommends that the National Park Service design the restoration to maximize habitat for the species of greatest conservation need in Jamaica Bay, while building long-term resiliency to climate change and sea-level rise as well as improving wildlife protection and providing more opportunities for public viewing. Click here to read NYC Audubon's full Restoration Recommendations for the West Pond.

A total of 61 bird species found at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge have been identified as having significant conservation need. These are species with declining populations, or which are present in New York State in only small numbers and therefore vulnerable. Among them are herons and egrets; common terns; shorebirds such as red knots, piping plovers, and American oystercatchers; and migrating upland songbirds such as black-throated blue warblers.

All elements of the drawing are not to scale but represent key elements that need to be included in the restoration.NYC Audubon has identified the following habitats, in order of priority, as being most crucial for bird species:

1) High salt marsh
2) Low salt marsh
3) Sand beach
4) Intertidal mudflats
5) Maritime forest
6) Coastal plain pond
7) Gravel beach
8) Freshwater marsh
9) Shell beach
10) Marsh Island

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further analysis of these bird habitats suggests that high salt marsh, intertidal mudflats, coastal plain ponds and freshwater marsh are the most under-represented habitats within Jamaica Bay. Our recommendations emphasize these habitats in the restoration of the West Pond and are based on the best current evidence from published studies and from detailed analysis of current habitat conditions. Click here to read NYC Audubon's full Restoration Recommendations for the West Pond.

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