“Our local economy depends a great deal on Jamaica Bay, so it is essential we do all we can to protect it for future generations,” Sen. Addabbo said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Though admittedly disappointed that Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently vetoed his bill aimed at permanently extending the protection of Jamaica Bay, State Sen. Joe Addabbo, Jr. (D-Howard Beach) on Friday indicated that the setback will not deter him from continuing to work with the administration, community leaders, preservationists, and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach) toward “finding legislative ways” to further secure the beloved estuary.
According to Addabbo, the original law he crafted in 2014 barred the State Department of Environmental Conservation from approving any plans by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to place hazardous dredged materials into the bay’s borrow pits. These are areas of Jamaica Bay’s floor where excavations have been made to allow for the passage of larger ships.
Under current law, the senator noted, these environmental safeguards expire on June 30, 2022.
“The delicate ecology of Jamaica Bay, which includes unique salt marshes, demands that we implement permanent protections to guard against any environmental degradation that may result in a loss of wildlife habitat, compromised water quality, or other negative consequences for the area,” Addabbo warned last June as he announced that the proposed law had passed the Senate and the Assembly. “We have already implemented eco-friendly programs like switching to paper straws, using reusable bags and water bottles to lessen our impact on the environment. Our local economy depends a great deal on Jamaica Bay so it is essential we do all we can to protect it for future generations.”
Addabbo has called the bay “a tremendous asset” to his Senate district and to the entire nation. The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is one of the most widely acknowledged and respected bird sanctuaries in the Northeastern United States. The bay itself presents opportunities for local residents and visitors to fish, boat, scuba dive, and engage in other recreational activities.
On Friday, Addabbo noted that, in recent years, the DEC “has worked incredibly hard to clean up the waters of Jamaica Bay, so much so that residents and visitors have seen marine wildlife in the bay that haven’t been there in decades, such as dolphins and even whales. I hope to see some action taken on this matter before the original bill sunsets [in 2022], because we cannot move backwards after the amazing work already done to revitalize Jamaica Bay.”
Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers President Dan Mundy, Jr. echoed the senator’s sentiment.
“The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers consider this bill to be one of the most critical pieces of legislation protecting the bay in the last three decades,” Mundy said. “The constant threat from City, State and federal agencies to use the deep portions of Jamaica Bay as a garbage dump for contaminated sediment has long been one of the biggest threats to the future of the bay. While these threats started to appear decades ago, they have found new supporters as various dredging projects around the city have created a need to get rid of sediment that is often contaminated. In addition, the research that has more recently come to light highlights the amazing role that the deep portions of the bay play in supporting massive amounts of marine life that would cease to exist should they be filled in.”