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Jamaica Bay Protected Under New Law – QNS.com

Jamaica Bay Protected Under New Law

Mayor Bloomberg signed into legislation last week a City Council bill that will require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to develop a plan to preserve the Jamaica Bay watershed.
The bill mandates that the DEP come up with the plan by September 1, 2006 with help from a seven-member advisory committee — three picked by the speaker of the council and four by the mayor. The committee will feature experts and scientists who will be in charge of providing suggestions and recommendations for the plan to the DEP.
“We needed to create a comprehensive Jamaica Bay watershed management plan that would develop a management strategy for minimizing harmful impacts on the bay,” said Councilmember James Gennaro, who is the chair of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee.
The Jamaica Bay watershed, which covers nearly 93,000 acres and is bordered by the shores of Brooklyn, Queens and the Rockaway peninsula, has seen its marshlands drastically decrease in the past 50 years, and scientists predict that the land will completely vanish within the next 20 years if measures are not taken soon.
“If we don’t reverse this phenomenon, we are in danger of the entire Jamaica Bay ecosystem collapsing, which would be unacceptable not only for environment that relates to aesthetics, but also for economic and other practical reasons,” Gennaro said.
Besides being a habitat for many natural species and helping to reduce urban pollution, Mayor Bloomberg said that “the Jamaica Bay wetlands play an important role in facilitating natural water quality improvement, flood protection and coastal erosion protection.”
Many possible causes for the decrease in existing marshlands include an increase in land erosion due to storms, illegal dumping and rapid inland development surrounding the area.
Gennaro said he hopes that this bill will serve as a model for other wetlands and bays that are facing a similar crisis.
pdavis@queenscourier.com

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