Thursday, August 17, 2006

Moby Discusses the Importance of Coastal Conservation in Recent Interview

International recording artist and CMRC Benefit performer Moby recently spoke to the need for the increased conservation and restoration of our coastal resources in the New York - New Jersey Harbor Bight during an interview with the Artisan News Service. The interview, conducted at East River Park on the lower east side of Manhattan, highlighted the pressing issues surrounding our natural coastlines and urban waterfronts.

In Moby's own words:

"The issue of cleaning up our waterways is incredibly important."

He also added:

"People are now just rediscovering that New York is a coastal city. Manhattan is an island and one of the things that makes it so special is that it is surrounded by water."

To see the interview in its entirety please visit:

Additional Coverage of the Benefit


Monday, August 14, 2006

In the News: Walking on the City’s Wild Side

For some, getting away from it all means a flight from JFK and a week at a remote beach in the tropics. For others, it simply means taking a ferry from Manhattan and hiking around Staten Island's shoreline for 6 days. Reporter Andy Newman of the NY Times recently did just that and explored the 57-mile coast of Staten Island, finding some amazing natural resources and equally interesting characters along the way. JB

August 13, 2006
By Andy Newman

There is a place in this city where teenagers go crabbing from the old railroad bridge, where people consider themselves residents of a town of half a dozen rather than of a metropolis of eight million, where the waterfront still harbors ancient secrets along with the inevitable clash of development interests.

It’s called Staten Island. It is the fastest growing county in New York State, yet it remains, in pockets, and in its peculiar way, the Alaska of New York City.

That is, a place where nature, however debased, still plays a role in daily life and where there is room to pursue a dream, whether that means amassing a mansion-full of musty antiques or a yard full of cars up on blocks patrolled by roosters, or building an artwork along a quarter mile of beachfront, or simply drinking a beer outside the corner store without having to hide it in a paper bag.

This Staten Island, somehow urban, rural and suburban at once, is hard to spot from the typical perspective of the nonislander taking a sight-seeing round-trip ferry from Manhattan or driving through to New Jersey and points west. But on a leisurely journey by foot, the island blossoms.

A recent six-day trek along the roads and trails and beaches that trace and skirt Staten Island’s 57-mile coastline turned up endless surprises, along with sufficient blackberries and sassafras leaves to sustain a hiker from one pizza place to the next.

Such a journey around Staten Island, the sixth-largest island in the continental United States, was not unprecedented. In 1679, two Dutch missionaries, Jasper Dankers and Peter Sluyter, rowed over from Brooklyn. They found the island aswarm with tasty wildlife — “well provided with wild turkeys, geese, snipe and woodhens” — but otherwise fairly inhospitable. After getting lost, they came upon an Englishwoman’s farmstead. They asked “for something to drink, and also for someone to show us the road, but she refused the last, although we were willing to pay for it,” they wrote. “She was a cross woman.”

Three hundred and twenty-seven years later, the same flinty pioneer spirit can still be found on the island. And while snipe and woodhens are not so common, there are still plenty of geese, and wild turkeys, too.

Read more:

Google Map of Staten Island,-74.182434&spn=0.230005,0.462799&t=k&om=1

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Business Stewardship Speaker Series Kicks-Off With Presentations From Credit Suisse, 1% For the Planet and NYC Audubon



Business Stewardship Panel

CMRC Executive Director Joel Banslaben welcomed all to the kick-off of the Business Stewardship Speaker Series at 8:30 AM on July 25th. The topic for the event, Corporations Leveraging Resources for Coastal Conservation was introduced. The seminar was hosted by the Hudson River Foundation at 17 Battery Place, Manhattan, NY.

Yigal Gelb – Program Director, NYC Audubon
Mr. Gelb discussed the Harbor Herons Monitoring partnership and how the collaboration between Fuji Film and NYC Audubon allowed the organization to overcome the challenge of determining nesting and feeding routes of several wading birds. The partnership provided NYC Audubon with airtime in the Fuji Film blimp to track four species while in flight.

Yigal provided background on the Harbor Herons project and the need for aerial monitoring. The Harbor Herons consist of several species including the Black Crown Night Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Glossy Ibis. NYC Audubon is trying to determine if birds from other areas are using different feeding grounds and are feeding sites equally important?

The results of the partnership provided Audubon with important information about nesting and feeding grounds. They found that four separate nesting/feeding systems exist in Pelham Bay Park, NJ Meadowlands, Jamaica Bay and Staten Island. Furthermore they found that feeding grounds are necessary and birds cannot use other wetlands.

Yigal also provided insight into how the partnership with Fuji Film came about. The idea came from an Audubon member and staff then followed up with a contact that could arrange conversation between the two organizations. NYC Audubon provided details of their monitoring plans and the need for the aerial resources and Fuji Film agreed to assist with the project.

Alison Johnson – Credit Suisse Foundation
Ms. Johnson described recent trends in corporate philanthropy and volunteerism. Credit Suisse is a large company with 5000 employees locally that provide human resources for volunteer projects in their local communities. Larger corporations are often looking to donate resources to an effort to enhance public image and provide workers with connection to their local community.

Alison discussed how Credit Suisse recently revisited its corporate philanthropy strategic plan. After evaluation, Credit Suisse decided to direct their corporate philanthropy toward community participation and volunteerism. Credit Suisse now only works with organizations that can provide volunteer opportunities for their employees and fit within the three tenets of Credit Suisse’s corporate giving strategy:

o Internal Culture Building - Focus on building relationships between employees and community giving where employees initiate the relationship with local organizations.
o Team Building - more money is given when teams of employees are involved, as opposed to old system of individual donation matching.
o Social Responsibility and Community Development - focus on local communities.

Credit Suisse also has a Mini Grant Program that provides “Dollars for Doers,” where the work of an employee is rewarded with a donation. Ms. Johnson also mentioned that Credit Suisse is looking into involvement with local environmental issues and suggested that organizations look into Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy (CECP), the Foundation Center, New York Regional Association of Grantmakers (NYRAG) and the Corporate Volunteer Network of NY (CVNY).

Terry Kellogg – Executive Director, One Percent for the Planet
Mr. Kellogg described One Percent’s effort to create partnerships for sustainable business and healthy ecosystems and discussed the trends in our society where individuals and companies that are outsiders to policy-making often effect the greatest change. One Percent is working to address how business can change their model from “how can we be the most sustainable company” to “how can we effect the greatest change while also protecting business interests.”

Terry provided some background on the organization which was started by Yvon Chouinard and Craig Matthews when they realized their companies were thriving because of their conservation focus. Member companies give one percent of their sales revenues to environmental organizations and enter into a license agreement to use logo and promote business stewardship. One Percent certifies member’s donations and maintains a database of approved recipients while assisting to maintain relationships between member organizations and businesses.

One Percent has grown from around 100 members to nearly 400 in the past year and includes companies from 36 states and 16 nations. Mr. Kellogg highlighted that each business provides one percent of gross revenues and that this is a very significant contribution for most companies. However, more often than not businesses are benefiting as a result due to consumers being increasingly aware of corporate practices before investing financially.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 AM. The next Business Stewardship Speaker Series event on Retail Business and Conservation Opportunities will take place in October 2006.

Read more about the Business Stewardship Initiative:

Monday, August 07, 2006

In the News: Massive Manatee Is Spotted in Hudson River

Sea life continues to thrive in the NY - NJ Harbor Estuary and with greater frequency large aquatic species are found within the waters of the inner Harbor and Hudson River. This past week a 1,000 pound manatee was observed swimming northward along the waterfront of Manhattan to the disbelief of many boaters and eyewitnesses. While the manatee does not frequently inhabit waters this far away from its tropical home, they have been sited in Long Island and Rhode Island in the past states the NY Times. JB

August 7, 2006
By Jennifer Lee

Added to the chronicles of great beasts that have descended upon New York City in the year 2006 is one that is arguably the greatest of them all. A beast, upwards of 1,000 pounds and a cousin to the elephant, which dwarfs the coyote, the deer and the dolphin that preceded it. A beast that, at hundreds of miles north of its natural habitat, has most likely made the longest and most arduous journey among them. A beast, with a pudgy-nosed face and a sweet-potato-shaped body, that could even be considered cute: a manatee.

Over the past week, boaters and bloggers have been energetically tracking a manatee in its lumbering expedition along the Atlantic Coast and up the Hudson River.

John H. Vargo, the publisher of Boating on the Hudson magazine, put out an alert last week, much to the incredulity of some boaters.

“Some were laughing about it, because it couldn’t possibly be true,” Mr. Vargo said.

The manatee has been spotted at 23rd Street near Chelsea Piers, West 125th Street, and later in Westchester County. It appeared to be healthy.

Read more:

Manatee Facts

Friday, August 04, 2006

In the News: New bill aims to keep ocean between N.Y. and Jersey clean

After decades of being literally "dumped" on, the NY-NJ Bight may be finally receiving the protection it rightly deserves. New legislation introduced by two members of Congress would create a Clean Ocean Zone for 19,000 square miles of valuable marine habitat located offshore of New Jersey and New York. The Act, fostered by the conservation organization Clean Ocean Action, would significantly limit future dumping of waste materials into the coastal waters of our region and would also prevent the mining of non-renewable natural resources from the Bight. This would be a great step forward for our coasts and oceans writes the Star-Ledger. JB

Sunday, July 23, 2006
By Claire Heininger

Once notorious for washing syringes, poisoned fish, raw sewage and worse onto New Jersey's beaches, ocean water along the coastline has come a long way since its polluted height in the 1980s. A bill to be introduced in Congress tomorrow aims to keep it that way.

The New Jersey/New York Clean Ocean Zone Act would permanently ban construction of new dumpsites, extracting of national resources, building of new pipelines and other damaging measures within the NY/NJ Bight, a 19,000-square-mile area wedged between the coasts of New Jersey and New York.

Formerly home to eight ocean dumpsites, the Bight remains vulnerable despite decades of temporary clean-up regulations, said U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-6th Dist.), a co-sponsor of the bill.

"After 20, 30 years of success and having the oceans being clean, we don't want to backtrack," Pallone said yesterday at a ceremony in Seaside Park to announce the legislation. "If we're going to have permanent success, we need a permanent solution."

Recent policy shifts away from coastline protection -- particularly the House of Representatives' vote last month to lift a quarter century-old ban on offshore gas and oil drilling -- have increased the urgency to create a clean ocean zone, said Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action.

Read more:

Clean Ocean Action Website

Google Map of the NY-NJ Bight,-73.135986&spn=1.861243,3.702393&t=h&om=1

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

In the News: Debate Rages on Housing at Planned Brooklyn Park

Brooklyn Bridge Park has the potential to be one of the greatest waterfront parks in the world someday. The only problem is that it has yet to be created. In 2002, the Port Authority and other local, State and Federal agencies agreed to develop an 85-acre park on old maritime piers located just south of the Brooklyn Bridge. However, with construction costs at $150 million and maintenance at $15 million a year the plan included private development within the boundaries of the park in order to generate a revenue stream. Now government agencies, non-profits, developers and local residents are continuing to debate "When is a park not a park?" writes the NY Times. JB

By Sam Roberts
July 23, 2006

If 1,200 or so high-rise apartments, a hotel and other private buildings occupy about one-tenth of the land reserved for a park project, is it still a park?

The city and state are poised to transform a 1.3-mile stretch of derelict docks and warehouses in Brooklyn Heights into a ribbon of recreation. The 85-acre site, which offers breathtaking views of Manhattan, would include lawns, rolling hills, ball fields, bikeways, a marina, a restaurant, a hotel and, to the dismay of some neighborhood residents, three new luxury apartment towers ranging in height from 95 to 315 feet, along with parking.

The debate over the Brooklyn Bridge Park reprises controversies over the West Side of Manhattan and raises fundamental urban planning questions: When is a park not a park? And how far should government go in granting concessions to developers — in this case, allowing profitmaking housing on public land — to subsidize nonessential public services?

Both sides in the debate, which is also being played out in court, ascribe dark motives to their opponents.

Last week, the Sierra Club weighed in, declaring that “the park had been co-opted by the interests of real estate developers” and warning that “for the very first time, private housing, parking and what might also be a private marina” were being planned inside a park.

Supporters of the plan say that the critics would go to any lengths — even no park — to discourage people from driving into the neighborhood or traipsing through from subways and buses.

“The opposition is people who may have their views blocked, people who on principle oppose commercial development of any kind within the context of creation of a park, and people who may feel they agreed to the concept but now that they know what it is they oppose it,” said Adrian Benepe, the city’s parks commissioner. “Some of the opponents like the neighborhood the way it is and don’t want outsiders,” he continued.

As a park, the site presents challenges — it sits isolated below the Heights and much of it is cut off by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Still, until recently, the project seemed a paradigm of cooperative, if prolonged, planning.

Read more:

Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy

Brooklyn Bridge Development Corporation

Google Map of Future Site of Brooklyn Bridge Park,-73.994508&spn=0.014414,0.028925&t=h&om=1

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

In the News: Strong comeback for a local crop

Restoring the once-great shellfisheries of the Harbor Bight is no simple task, but with the assistance of local law-makers, scientists and conservation organizations some bivalves are on their way to returning to a healthy equilibrium in the Great South Bay and Peconic Estuary. For decades, shellfishing was a way of life in many coastal communities. However, with excessive coastal development and overharvesting of the fishery, the stocks plummeted leaving many without jobs and an ecosystem without several key species. Now conservation plans are beginning to take root, but it will be many years until bivalves like the scallop return to abundance writes Newsday. JB

By T.W. Farnam
July 25, 2006

Long Island baymen caught 6,000 pounds of scallops last year, triple the haul of the previous year and more than for any year since 1997, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Last year's harvest was also particularly widespread, with some areas producing that haven't had scallops in decades.

"What's interesting and intriguing about this is that we're not just seeing scallops in one area," said Gordon Colvin, head of marine resources for the department. "It's exactly what you need -- you need to have as much of the available habitat range being occupied.

"Baymen found scallops in areas of the Great South Bay and Flanders Bay farther west than they have been since 1985, the year that a "brown tide" -- a fast-spreading algae bloom -- decimated the shellfish and much of the submerged eel grass that sheltered them, scientists said.

"Yeah, there were a few more scallops last year," said Kenny Clark, 46, of Shelter Island. He was able to catch scallops into the beginning of January last season. "We'll just see about next year," he said.

Colvin cautioned that the results of one year's scallop harvest do not mean a permanent resurgence, as the shellfish must re-create their entire population each year and scallop reproduction is dependent on a number of environmental factors.

Even with last year's big harvest, Long Island's bay scallops are a long way from their former bounty; last year's catch was less than 2 percent of the average for the two decades before the first brown tide, according to the department.

Peconic Bay scallops were once the prize catch of East End baymen. From 1964 through 1985, baymen harvested an average 338,463 pounds of scallops annually, with a dockside value of $3.3 million, in 2005 dollars; last year, they caught 6,070 pounds, with a value of $153,258.

To bring back the scallops, regulators and scientists created two new spawning grounds in Orient Harbor and Northwest Harbor, in hopes that a dense spawning area -- with lots of scallops dropped in the water there -- will mean more successful mating and that large numbers of larvae will be able to outlast predators' attacks. He was able to catch scallops into the beginning of January last season. "We'll just see about next year," he said.

Read more:,0,7093010.story?coll=ny-longisland-homepage

Additional Coverage: Health of bays gets iffy grade,0,1904139.story?coll=ny-longisland-homepage

Peconic Estuary Program

South Shore Estuary Program

Google Map of Great South Bay and Peconic Estuary,-72.832489&spn=0.460396,0.925598