Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New York City's smaller wetlands remain unprotected

Environment News Service: It's hard to image standing in midtown Manhattan, but wetlands do exist within New York City, and they both protect the city and need protection themselves, according to a report released Friday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Many New Yorkers don't realize there are thousands of acres of wetlands in the five boroughs," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Wetlands are robust ecosystems that perform crucial environmental functions like trapping pollutants, capturing stormwater runoff, sequestering carbon dioxide, and moderating storm surges."

Today, the city has only one percent of its historic freshwater wetlands and 10 percent of its historic tidal wetlands. These tidal remaining wetlands are concentrated in Brooklyn around Jamaica Bay, in Queens, and in Staten Island, which also has freshwater wetlands. Freshwater wetlands smaller than 12.4 acres are not protected by state law and are vulnerable to determinations that they are outside of the scope of federal protection.

The new report shows that the extent of these smaller wetlands in New York City is not fully known. To gather more information on the smaller freshwater wetlands, the report recommends developing new high-resolution aerial and satellite wetland maps to precisely determine the size and location of unprotected wetlands before pursuing other options outlined in the report. This mapping is scheduled to start later this year.

"In PlaNYC, we promised to study wetlands and build on wetland successes like the impressive Staten Island Bluebelt stormwater project managed by the Department of Environmental Protection, as well as the thousands of acres of wetlands managed by the Parks Department," said the mayor…..

USS Akron (ZRS-4) flying over the southern end of Manhattan Island, New York City, circa 1931-1933

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