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U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) celebrated Earth Day Tuesday by presenting his plan to help save the ecosystem of the Jamaica Bay Area.
Speaking at a news conference at the Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge Tuesday, Weiner gave his State of the National Park speech that outlined the work his office has done to help preserve the wetlands. He also talked about new plans he has in the works for the area, part of the city's Gateway National Park.
In August, the Jamaica Watershed Protection Plan Advisory Committee, a seven-member group chosen by the city to help the National Park Service, issued a report that showed the bay had lost 70 percent of its marshland over the last 50 years and that if no action was taken, all of the wetlands would be gone by 2012.
"These improvements will continue to fuel an ongoing renaissance at Gateway that will allow even more New Yorkers to enjoy the outdoors without leaving the Big Apple," the congressman, who is running for mayor, said in a statement.
In 2002, Weiner organized a blue ribbon panel of scientists who developed goals to save the 3,000-acre site. One of their goals was to reduce the bay's nitrogen levels by 60 percent over the next 10 years.
In October, the city's Department of Environmental Protection said in its Jamaica Bay Watershed Protection Plan that an increase of nitrogen within the bay was one of the major factors in the loss of the marshes since it reduced the amount of oxygen in the ecosystem.
The Watershed Protection Plan Committee suggested in its report that the nitrogen may have come from four city water treatment plants in Brooklyn, Jamaica and the Rockaways. Weiner called on the federal, state and city governments to double the area's sewage capacity to lighten the discharge and showed a plan to reintroduce oyster beds in the bay next year.
Oysters, which the congressman said have not inhabited the ecosystem since the 1930s, absorb nitrogen and can filter between 5 and 50 gallons of water a day.
Weiner also called on the NYPD to move its training facility at Floyd Bennett Field, which is near the bay, to College Point so that more land could be freed up for the 400 species of fish, birds and other wildlife.
The congressman's plans also push the city to create more awareness of Jamaica Bay to residents.
He called on the city to create a boat dock at Floyd Bennett Field to give kayakers, canoeists and other ocean lovers a chance to view the bay up close. Weiner also said he would like to see more ferry service from Manhattan to the Rockaways.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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