Author Archives: Suzi

About Suzi

No more wandering in the Hudson Valley. I have achieved my dream, it was a long time working toward it, but now I am here, living in NYC. My dream, my goal, my purpose in life.

Queens state senator seeks a second chance at law protecting overfishing off Rockaways


Queens Chronicle, September 14th, 2018

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A change to the environmental conservation law that would prevent overfishing off the Rockaways is in the works for next year’s legislative session.

State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo said that he continues to support a bill that was proposed this year about net fishing a species of fish called the Atlantic Menhaden. This new part of the environmental conservation law would limit the amount of commercial fishing boats that can take these fish.

State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle proposed this bill, but it was not voted on this year while the state Senate was in session.

Atlantic Menhaden are caught using a large net called a seine. Because they can be caught in large quantities under the current law, it is easy for overfishing to occur.

“Overfishing a certain species can have major unseen impacts on our areas’ wildlife, much as the overfishing, or catching, of the Atlantic Menhaden has had in the waters of the Rockaways,” Addabbo said.

Atlantic Menhaden are popular for seine fishing because they are used for fishmeal and fish oil. The species is also popular bait for fisherman as well as a source of food for whales and dolphins.

According to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, the Atlantic Menhaden population was critically low in 2012. The Commission worked to protect the fish, and now they are making a comeback off the Rockaways and Broad Channel.

Senator Addabbo said he is happy that the fish are coming back as it will positively affect local fishermen and tourism. However, this also means that more boats are looking to seine fish the newly replenished population.

“These ships are not local but rather all based out of Virginia and currently are allowed to enter the NY waters and take millions of Menhaden,” said Dan Mundy, vice president of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers.

The proposed law would prevent these ships from entering New York waters, said Mundy.

New York Senate sessions run from January through June. Addabbo plans to push this law forward during the next legislative session.

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Developer announces plan to restore a waterfront habitat in Long Island City


Queens Chronicle, September 12th, 2018

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The waters of the East River around 44th Drive in Long Island City are deep and choppy, but steps are being made to allow residents more access to water in spots like Anable Basin.

Real estate developer TF Cornerstone has announced plans to restore and enhance the natural waterfront habitat at the Long Island City Innovation Center.

“We really don’t spend that much time lingering in the cove area as it is not protected from the main current,” said David Matten, senior administrator at the Long Island City Community Boathouse, a nonprofit that is dedicated to kayaking and environmental education on the East River. Matten has worked at the community boathouse for nine years.

TF Cornerstone will remove an old platform and restore a half acre of waterfront for the benefit of the environment and people alike. The sloping shoreline will feature boulders and rocks, which will be interspersed with plants. It’s unclear when the project will be completed but once it’s done, visitors will be able to travel down to the water’s edge.

Matten attended a June 25 public meeting hosted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation where the agency asked community members for their thoughts about potential designs for the waterfront. According to Matten, he was in the minority by wanting a natural waterfront with a sloping hill and marshy vegetation. His advice to the DEC: “do less.” While controlling erosion was of the essence, Matten said he and others pushed the department to limit the environmental impact of the project on the marshland there.

“You can build this the same as the rest of the waterfront where you can’t touch the water or you cannot let me build up,” Matten said.

Bioswales — manmade sloped areas filled with vegetation designed to drain, concentrate and remove water — will be installed in the low-lying area to prevent flooding during severe storms. Piles that supported the old platform will be left in place to minimize the disruption to the river bottom and provide habitat for the river’s marine life and wave attenuation in order to calm the waters in the cove and reduce wave impact along the shoreline.

Preservation and restoration are in the works not only to create a welcoming and sustainable public space for Long Island City residents, but to also protect the community from rising sea levels and coastal storms which are becoming increasingly more severe due to climate change, according to a press release from TF Cornerstone, which has developed properties in the adjoining area.

In 2017, the real estate management and development company, TF Cornerstone, along with the nonprofits Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center and the Coalition for Queens, were chosen to create a new, mixed-use development in the hopes of bringing affordable industrial space, workforce training, offices, a school, affordable housing and public space to the Long Island City waterfront.

“It’s a forward-thinking approach that all waterfront developments in our coastal city must take in this era of climate change,” said Roland Lewis, president and CEO of Waterfront Alliance, a nonprofit organization that works to influence the development and use of the waterfront of New York City and northern New Jersey.


Lakes recovering from acid rain


By James M. Odato

The trend is clear, researchers say: Rain falling over the Adirondacks is getting cleaner every year and today is nearly ideal.

Water bodies ravaged by acidic precipitation for years are springing back to life, and fish and wildlife are returning.

“It’s a national success story,” said Jed Dukett, a chemist who runs the Adirondack Lakes Survey Corporation, which has done long-term monitoring of waters in the Adirondacks. The group has performed the bulk of the sampling of acid rain and Adirondack lakes since 1992.

Data current to August 8, for example, show that Bear Pond, which was hit hard by acid rain and lost its ability to sustain trout, is healthy again.

“I saw loons there,” Dukett said about a recent outing.

The pond’s pH level had been dangerously low—5—during the heavy years of acid rain. Anything below 5.5 is not good for aquatic life. With the pollution emission controls required under federal environmental policies and a movement away from coal power, sulfur and nitrogen content in the clouds pouring over the Northeast are at the lowest in decades, state data show.

Tracking of Bear Pond in the St. Regis Canoe Area, for one, is an indicator.

The pond’s water has been moving toward a pH of 6 in recent years.

When Dukett checked on a hot summer day recently, the sample came back at 6.3. “The rainwater pH level is almost reaching natural or background levels,” he said.

Although it may take a while for total recovery, lakes likely to spring back quickest are those with the right features, such as Bear Pond, which gets some natural groundwater. Other Adirondack water bodies that should be showing big gains include Brook Trout Lake and Indian Lake, because of their thin-till drainage, Dukett said.

“Thin-till lakes got hit the hardest so they will be the first to show significant recovery,” he said. These lakes have mostly shallow deposits of glacial till, a natural buffer of acidic deposition.

Near the summit of Whiteface Mountain, managers with the University at Albany Atmospheric Science Research Center noted an Olympian jump in pH levels from the cloud precipitation tested over time.

Richard Brandt, who leads a cloud-water sampling team at the mountain, said the numbers are the best seen in years. He has plotted cloud pH measurements from 1994 to 2017 and the improvement is many orders of magnitude better, 3.9 to 4.9. That one point increase is a major climb, he said. “”It means its decreased 90 percent (in) acidity, which is pretty remarkable,” Brandt said.

Paul Casson, a technician who has been sampling at Whiteface since 1994, said federal requirements on smokestack emissions have been effective and he hopes the Environmental Protect Agency doesn’t take a step back on the Clean Air Act.

In Albany, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Barbara Underwood have publicly warned the Trump administration they will fight any rollbacks of the federal controls, although their concerns have focused on potential weakening of automobile emission standards.

And several environmental groups are worried about weakening federal commitment to policing Midwest power plants responsible for much of the acid rain and smog entering the Northeast. The Adirondack Council is among several groups that joined Maryland in suing the Environmental Protection Agency in 2017. The plaintiffs urged a federal judge to make the agency do its duty and force power plants in five states to obey the “good neighbor” provisions of the Clean Air Act and use emission controls.

In January, Underwood’s office joined the Connecticut attorney general in a suit similar to the Maryland complaint, seeking to get the EPA to honor the Clean Air Act and combat “interstate transport of air pollution from emission sources.”

The Clean Air Act, created in 1979 and amended in 1990 to help protect the ozone layer and to combat acid rain, has achieved cleaner air, experts say. “But the job is far from complete,” the EPA says on its web site.

However, the federal government has scaled back monitoring money. The New York Energy Research Authority has been funding the Adirondack monitoring, granting $495,000 annually in recent years. It has restructured the program as federal funds have been reduced, said Claudette Thornton, of the authority.

It is providing a total of $493,000 for the next four years combined now, extending the long-term monitoring but sampling lake water every other month instead of monthly.

A grant obtained this year by state Senator Betty Little will make

$250,000 available over two years to help pay for some additional lake research and may help the state Department of Environmental Conservation more effectively target its trout stocking and liming programs, Dukett said.

The positive trends seen from the field research will be discussed broadly at a conference planned this fall by the Adirondack Council, said John Sheehan, a spokesman. He said before the federal acid rain reduction program started, pH in rainfall over the Adirondacks averaged 4.1 and was as low as 2.6 during the 1970s. With the data showing the levels approaching acid-free precipitation, the council plans to discuss strategies to continue the recovery at its conference November 29 at the Saratoga Hilton, he said.

“There’s been considerable progress, but untainted rainfall has a pH of 5.5, so we’re getting there,” he said.

Also, from November 5 to November 9, the National Atmospheric Deposition Program will hold its fortieth anniversary conference at the Albany Hilton. The group has been measuring air and precipitation since 1978. Its agenda involves discussing “historical legacy” and the “future.”

Margaret Valis, the DEC’s director of the Bureau of Air Quality Analysis & Research, will be attending. She said the favorable trend of cleaner emissions coming into New York is reflected in the waters of the Adirondacks, but it will take 100 to 200 years for the lakes to return to their pre-industrial state. “The chemistry in the lakes do lag behind what we see in the emissions,” she said, noting the limited buffering capabilities of the North Country lakes.

Yet fish are coming back, she said.

Continued monitoring programs are essential, she said, and may include aspects of climate change such as testing lake water temperatures at various depths.

“The Adirondacks are really New York’s jewel,” she said. “It is important to make sure any of these trends are not reversed.”


What’s behind Staten Island’s high cancer rates? Public meeting kicks off study


Staten Island Advance, July 5th, 2018

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — After the Advance detailed the higher-than-average cancer rates on Staten Island, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a one-year study to determine the cause.

"Why does Staten Island have a higher rate of cancer than the other boroughs?" asked Cuomo. "We need to have those questions answered."

The study, to be conducted by the state Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Environmental Conservation, will include Staten Island and three other New York counties — Suffolk, Warren and Erie.

Before the research begins, the DOH will hold a public meeting to hear from borough health officials, oncology control groups, environmental groups and residents.

The meeting will take place Tuesday, July 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the College of Staten Island.

The DOH will use the study’s findings to enhance cancer screenings, prevention efforts and access to high-quality care in the affected communities.

"The Department of Health, working with DEC, are going to study what health factors, demographic factors, environmental factors could be at play to suggest a reason for those differences [in cancer rates]," said Cuomo.

CANCER MAPPING USED

Brad Hutton, deputy commissioner for public health at the DOH, said geographic mapping was used to identify the borough’s high cancer rates.

The mapping technology determines the amount of cancer predicted to be in a small geographic location as well as the actual occurring rates. The analysis then identifies areas that have a higher than normal percentage, Hutton explained.

Data from 2011 to 2015 was used for the mapping process.

While the borough’s high rate of thyroid cancer compared to the state as a whole will be a focus of the investigation, all cancer rates will be studied, he said.

CANCER RATES ON STATEN ISLAND

In the most recent available cancer data from 2014, Staten Island had 2,781 reported incidences of out of 38,838 total in the five boroughs.

Staten Island accounted for 7.16 percent of all New York City cancer cases in 2014 while it has 5.5 percent of the city’s total population.

Thyroid cancer is more prevalent on Staten Island, according to the data. Between 2007 and 2011, thyroid cancer rates were 69.36 percent higher than New York City as a whole.

Breast, bladder and pancreatic cancers on Staten Island were also higher than the rest of the city with 14.97 percent for breast, 50.28 percent for bladder and 10.37 for pancreatic cancer.


Snowy Owl Makes Unexpected Visit at New York City Jail


Wall Street Journal, July 5th, 2018

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Snowy owls normally spend their summers in the Arctic, but on Monday one of the white-feathered raptors was discovered in an unlikely location: a courtyard at New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex.

A correction officer found the female bird after seeing it land near a laundry facility for one of the island’s jails. A New York City Correction Department spokesman said Tuesday that the bird appeared to be in distress with a drooping wing and suffering from dehydration. It was transported to the Wild Bird Fund in Manhattan for help.

“As always, safety is our top priority, even when it comes to nocturnal animals,” the spokesman, Jason Kersten, said in a statement.

The snowy owl is now beating the heat and recuperating at the bird rescue organization, which on Tuesday was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a conservation law that protects birds across the country.

Executive Director Rita McMahon said the snowy owl—named Lorax, after the eco-friendly character in the Dr. Seuss book and film—had parasites and a small sore on her foot but was recuperating with fluids and a diet of mice.

The organization was still trying to figure out why the bird, who is around 2 to 3 years old, was still in New York City in the summer.

“This is the mystery: She should not be here at this time of year,” she said. “She’s not meant for these climates, she’s meant for the Arctic.”

Snowy owls and other birds have been known to fly around runways at LaGuardia Airport, which is close to Rikers Island. In 2013, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey worked with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to relocate snowy owls after they struck five planes taking off and landing at area airports.

A federal appeals court gave the Port Authority the right to kill snowy owls and other migratory birds since they were a threat to planes at the airports.

Birds flock to airports because it reminds them of their natural habitat, at least when compared to busy city streets, said Lauren Adams, the lead wildlife keeper at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science.

“The thinking is that the airport grounds tend to be more similar to their native tundra habitats,” she said. “It’s large open spaces. They like to hunker down on the ground and watch out for prey.”

Since 2014, the New England center has housed LaGuardia, an injured snowy owl rescued from the airport. They believe he was harmed by a blast of hot air from a jet engine and his wing was permanently damaged.

Ms. McMahon’s organization had 6,000 patients last year, half of which were pigeons. The other half includes 120 different species of birds.

In January, they rehabilitated a long-eared owl who flew into a building in Manhattan. A few days later, they released it into Central Park.

“New Yorkers really care, you would be amazed the trouble people go to try and save a little bluebird they found on the street,” Ms. McMahon said. “The most frequent thing we hear from them is, ‘Thank God you’re here.’ ”


Toxic Algae Found in Two Central Park Waterways


West Side Rag, June 11th, 2018

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The state Department of Environmental Conservation has found toxic algae in the Harlem Meer and the Lake in Central Park, according to lab samples taken this month.

Unlike other lakes in the state, the concentrations of algae in the two Central Park lakes are not considered to have “high toxins.”

Such “Harmful Algae Blooms” can hurt people and animals, according to the state. “People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algae scums on the surface. Colors can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. If contact does occur, rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.”

Some species of algae have been known to be particularly harmful to dogs who swim in it and then lick their fur. It’s not clear if the Central Park algae falls into those categories.

The DEC has a list of things to know about Harmful Algae Blooms.


State officials find potentially toxic algae in a Flushing park pond


QNS.com, June 15th, 2018

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With summer temperatures on the rise, Queens residents may want to think twice before diving into this Flushing pond to cool off.

State environmental investigators recently found that Bowne Pond — on the western end of Bowne Park in Flushing — contains large amounts of algae blooms with the potential to produce toxins that can harm humans and animals, as reported by Patch.

Samples of the water taken by Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials revealed that the pond contains “widespread/lakewide” contamination. More specifically, that means the entire water body or most to all of the shoreline is affected by the bloom.

The DEC website advises people, pets and livestock to avoid contact with any water that is discolored or has algae scums on its surface. Coming in contact with toxic algae can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions or even breathing difficulties.

Colors of algae can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red.

While it may sound threatening, the type of contamination is not as severe as other bodies of water around the city such as Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn and Morningside Pond in Harlem. Those are identified by the DEC as already having confirmed levels of high toxins.

The DEC urges anyone who suspects they have seen algae blooms in any public body of water to report it to the agency, and those who come in contact with algae should wash it off thoroughly with clean water.

First acquired by the Parks Department in 1925, Bowne Park is named after former Mayor Walter Bowne who, ironically, is remembered for his strict policies attempting to prevent an outbreak of cholera — which spreads through contaminated water.