New York State Ornithological Association

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ConservationPosted 2001
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Jamaica Bay Bikepath

The following is from a handout distributed at the Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge on June 23, 2001.  Thanks to Al Ott of Queens County Bird Club for passing it along.

SOS Save Our Sanctuary SOS

Emergency Advisory June 2001 Emergency

Bulldozers are coming to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

The National Park Service is moving ahead with plans to pave over part of your wildlife refuge. The bulldozers will remove up to 30 feet of shrub-thicket habitat that protects current trails from the sights and sounds of Cross Bay Boulevard.

Gateway NRA and the Northeast Regional Office of the National Park Service have signed off on a "Finding of No Significant Impact" (FONSI) on their planned construction in the refuge of an asphalt multiple-use path for roller blading, biking, jogging and other active recreation based on an invalid Environmental Assessment (EA) produced in June 2000. The project will run the entire 1.6 mile length of the refuge and the ten feet width of asphalt will extend 20 feet into the refuge from the boulevard curb. The steep slopes will cause another 10 to 20 feet of disturbance and a planned increase in slope will make the entire edge habitat unstable during severe storms – threatening the entire upland area down to the wetland.

They are moving ahead with this project in spite of the following:

- universal opposition from local, regional and national conservation and environmental organizations (over 100 have registered their opposition).

- the opposition of 5,500 refuge visitors who signed a petition against this project three years ago.

- the 650 local residents, among those visitors, who signed the same petition.

- the opposition of Senator Charles Schumer.

- the suggestion of several perfectly valid alternatives which would be much less destructive for this habitat and for the birds and other animals that rely on the thickets during nesting and migration.

- the illegality of the funding sources (the matching funds come out of a fund earmarked for restoration of wetlands, not for building asphalt roadways in them).

- the illegality of the Environmental Assessment which violates provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Act of Congress forming Gateway NRA, the Transportation Act of 1966 and the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act.

- the violation of Gateway’s own Resource Management Plan for the refuge which allows for no further construction of pathways of any kind.

On the other side of the issue are:

- an organization known as Friends of Gateway/Neighborhood Open Space Coalition that is receiving six figure monies from the Federal government to promote this project.

- local interests who apparently think that asphalt, lawns and hedges will look tidier than shrub-thicket habitat.

All of which makes one wonder….. WHY? Why does the Gateway NRA insist on building this monstrosity?

If all this makes you wonder as well……ask for an EXPLANATION from and COMPLAIN to:

Acting Director Denis Galvin
National Park Service
1849 C Street, NW Room 3316
Washington, DC 20240
Telephone: 202/208-4621
Ask him to reject the FONSI

Our city has enough asphalt, it only has one wildlife refuge…..

also contact your own Congressperson and tell him or her that Senator Schumer is on our side and we need them as well. Ask them to contact the NPS Director.

Remember: The people of New York City deserve one quiet place. So do the birds and other animals.

See the National Park Service Environmental Assessment for the proposed bike path at Jamaica Bay, near Kennedy Airport in New York City.

At the 1998 Annual Meeting, the council of delegates approved a resolution addressing Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge bike path proposal.

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